By MAIMBOLWA MULIKELELA-
THE Zambia Freight Forwarders Association (ZAFFA) has urged Government to develop a policy that will compel importers and exporters to use rail transport for heavy cargo to ease intense pressure on the country’s roads.
ZAFFA chairperson Emmanuel Mutale said it was important for the Government to develop a policy that would see transportation of heavy cargo use the railway line rather than roads.
Mr Mutale said in Lusaka that there was also need for an enactment of a appropriate policy that would deal with tax avoidance on importers and exporters of cargo to reduce revenue losses on the part of Government.
“It must be understood that it is very easy to divert a truck load of copper, maize, or tamper with the accompanying documents from the source or en route, than it is on rail, because the anomally can be detected almost immediately.
“Commercial transactions involved are more complex by rail than by road, making it difficult for one to manipulate the system,” Mr Mutale said.
He said in order to counter negative effects the country has been experiencing, it was imperative that there was an enactment or enforcement of the existing transport policy so that heavy and long distance traffic was shifted from road to rail transport.
According to a research carried by ZAFFA, there have been reports of loss or disappearance of goods in transit on roads.
Mr Mutale observed that Zambia’s geographical location puts its road network in a precarious situation than any other Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) or Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) country.
“It is Interesting to note that out of 300 trucks crossing the border, the majority is foreign-owned and these traverse our roads at almost no toll fee at all. It has further been observed that despite the deteriorating railway transport sector which gave an opportunity to our Zambian indigenous transporters to take up the challenge, only a few have been involved in haulage of our export traffic.
“They do not pay tax in any form or otherwise are not authorised to transport export traffic from the country but that is what is happening,” he said.
He said ZAFFA had taken keen interest and had been working on an advocacy programme to sensitise and lobby appropriate stakeholders to ensure the shift from road to rail becomes a reality to the benefit of the citizenry and the country.
“To further complement the efforts, ZAFFA has gone into an alliance or partnership with Zambia Railways Limited to market the Road to Rail Project (RTR) and we believe we shall soon start to see the positive effects of the alliance which should spill over to systems like TAZARA and other organisations such as Mofed Transport Limited.
“We are very grateful to chief executive officer of ZRL and his team for the support and after all its business for the railways and enhancement of our trade facilitation,” Mr Mutale said.