THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has asked the Government to impose a nationwide ban on long-haul road freight taking a hard line in a bid to reduce congestion and damage on road networks.
Zimra official Mr Robert Mangwiro, who was speaking on behalf of acting Commissioner-General Mr Happias Kuzvinzwa, said despite the implementation of the one-stop border system at border posts such as Chirundu, long queues of haulage trucks were still common.
“The Government could consider banning long-haul road freight as it causes damages to the road network and congestion at our borders.
“Eliminating or reducing the number of haulage trucks on the road will help decongest our borders,” he said.
“It will also be critical in boosting the role of the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) giving it significant business.”
His sentiments were backed by the chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport Dexter Nduna who said such a move would provide a boon for the NRZ.
“Currently NRZ can reach 60 percent utilisation of its capacity, so we believe in all honesty that Ministry of Transport should put in place a statutory Instrument that remove bulk transportation off the roads and put them on rail.
“Let us utilise NRZ’s 60 percent capacity, which is not being utilised by having a quota from all transporters going to NRZ and slowly, but surely we will enhance their efficiency,” Nduna said.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joram Gumbo has already hinted plans to ban haulage trucks. He said in July that a legal instrument is being crafted to ban the transportation of bulky goods by road in order to protect the country’s road network and boost National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) operations.
The ailing parastatal faces stiff competition from haulage truck operators, which have also been blamed for the spate of accidents in the country.
Gumbo has said if allowed to ply the country’s roads, haulage trucks would continue damaging roads.
He said if implemented, the S.I. would go a long way in protecting the National Railways of Zimbabwe.
“Actually we’re planning to have a Statutory Instrument to outlaw bulky goods transportation by road to rail because if we allow big trucks to ply our roads they will be destroying our roads and there will be continuous rehabilitation of the roads.
“The NRZ has been very badly incapacitated and as a result those who would have wanted to move their goods have resorted to using roads,” said Minister Gumbo then.
He said the banning of bulky transportation of goods by road is not peculiar to Zimbabwe as it has happened in some Sadc countries.
“It’s (bulky transportation by road) actually a temporary issue which we’re going to address and actually ring fence some of the bulky transportation to the railways.
“It happens in Sadc and we’ll not be the only ones but for now that’s the prevailing situation,” Minister Gumbo said.
The NRZ, which recently appointed Deloitte and Touche as transaction advisors to push its capital raising exercise both locally and offshore, has 168 locomotives, of which only 64,38 percent are currently serviceable.
Official figures also show that 3 467 or 48 percent of its 7 255 wagons are operational.
The railways carrier is seeking $400 million for re-capitalisation. — BH24