The conference will bring together representatives of rail companies from the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region and elsewhere to discuss the integration of transport services in order to make regional trade more competitive.
Speaking at a Maputo press conference, Mualeia said that the main purpose of SARA is “to promote the commercial interests of the rail companies of the region”.
“The rail transport system is an integral component of the chain of logistics, and thus has an important role to play in promoting regional competitiveness”, he added.
He pointed out that railways are a relatively cheap form of transport, and allow direct contacts between industrial centres and ports. When the landlocked countries of southern Africa have to use road transport, this meant a heavy additional cost for their imports and exports, “with a direct and negative impact on the quality of life, on regional competitiveness, and hence on the economic development of the region”,
Among the key questions, Mualeia said, were the harmonization of rail policies between SADC countries and the elimination of non-fiscal barriers for goods in transit.
The rail companies also want SADC governments to exempt the railways from fuel taxes, and also to reduce or eliminate taxes on the import of rail equipment.
Among the main challenges facing SARA, Mualeia said, were overcoming current inefficiencies, ensuring investment in modern technologies, and increasing the capacity of the railways to meet growing demand.
SARA also wants a much tougher struggle against the vandalism and theft of rail components. The current fines that countries such as Mozambique impose on people caught stealing metallic components from the railways are regarded as far too lenient. An alternative, regarded favourably by SARA, would be mandatory prison sentences for anyone convicted of damaging rail infrastructures and equipment.Post published in: Africa News