Zim commits to building, upgrading more roads

Zimbabwe is committed to building more and better roads, bridges, airports, railway networks and border crossing facilities but cannot do it alone and thus needed to be in partnership with neighbours such as Mozambique.

Speaking during the Zimbabwe-Mozambique bilateral meeting on cooperation in transport and transport infrastructure in Harare yesterday, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona said cooperation between the two countries was not new as it was anchored by a historical and strong foundation of having shared the same trenches in the struggle for independence against colonialism.

“That alone is testament of our enduring legacy of bilateral cooperation, towards mutually beneficial and developmental programmes for our people. Indeed, our two countries are uniquely connected to each other as we share a lot in common in terms of our geography, traditions, values, cultures, languages, religion, aspirations and interests.

“Let us bear in mind that the opportunity offered by this bilateral platform creates room for scaling up our further cooperation in areas of aviation, road, rail and maritime transport and infrastructures.

“Through this partnership, let us scale up our government-to-government cooperation and deepen the people-to-people relations, as these are a catalyst for stronger relations between us. This momentum and ground game has to be maintained, as these relations bolster our ability to solve the issues of common concern in line with our demands and expectations.

“I also wish to express my profound gratitude and acknowledgement of our two visionary Heads of State: His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Cde Dr ED Mnangagwa and His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Mozambique, Cde FJ Nyusi. They have guided us to connect for the good of our two countries and peoples.

“As you have heard during your deliberations, our Heads of State agreed on the need for deeper cooperation in the transport sector, to facilitate the development of infrastructure and seamless transit facilitation, with the view to reduce costly and time-consuming transshipment of people and goods,” he said.

He was aware that for the past two days, they had weaved through a convoluted programme, deliberating on wide ranging subject matters on transport and transport infrastructure and development, mainly along the Beira Development Corridor.

“Such discussions enrich our aspirations and strengthens our resolve for an interconnected Southern African region, within the framework of a continental renaissance, boldly manifesting through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA), the largest free trade area in the world, which seeks to leverage on a massive regime of transport and logistics.

“Our bilateral cooperation with Mozambique should enable us to tap into the annual flows of foreign-direct investment from the international financial institutions and other sources of development finance. Africa’s population is growing faster than that of any other continent, and our citizens are on the move faster than people   elsewhere.

“These trends will drive demand and create opportunities for fast mobilities, massive logistical arrangements and connectivity in a manner that has never been witnessed before. Investments in infrastructure such as roads and railways are crucial to the development of our region.

“With the current boom in exports of chrome ore, ferrochrome, granite, lithium, iron ore, coal and many bulky minerals and inbound movement of containers, grains, fertilisers and containerised traffic, it is high time we should up our game and collaborate for us to jointly tap into development finance to develop our infrastructure,” Minister Mhona said.

Joint transport development corridors were key for African integration. Minister Mhona said unified economic development of the African region has become a Pan-African initiative, which commenced in 1963 through the formation of the Organisation of African Unity, the forerunner of the African Union.

“Since then, Africa has been on the trajectory of economic growth by opening new frontiers of cooperation, as Zimbabwe and Mozambique are demonstrating today. It thus calls for greater collaboration and support for African led initiatives to ensure the achievement of the aspirations of African people.

“The targets contained in the Agenda 2063 and the strategies therein dovetail with the collaboration that exists between Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

“This meeting comes at the most opportune time, as the two sister countries endeavour to develop resilient transport infrastructure to ensure better physical connectivity than ever before. As Zimbabwe, we are committed to building more and better roads, bridges, airports, railway networks and border crossing facilities. But we cannot do it alone. We need you in every stride of our journey,” he said.

Minister Mhona said there was still much more room for improvements in cooperation engagements.

“We thus need to do more if we are to make remarkable progress, given the magnitude of the work ahead of us, which our teams have reflected upon over the past two days. I therefore wish to urge everyone that in order to effectively realise our goals, more work need to be done on all agreed action items, starting with formalising protocols and bilateral arrangements, and establishing systems and mechanisms for implementation, monitoring and evaluation and follow ups.

“It is of paramount significance to appreciate that Mozambique is a strategic transport corridor for land-linked countries such as Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. These countries are reliant on the Maputo and Beira ports for major imports and exports. It is thus imperative to promote cooperation between us and facilitate seamless mobilities between the Republics of Zimbabwe and Mozambique and other sister countries,” he said.

Regional cooperation in aviation played an important role in enhancing the competitiveness of their aviation industry.

“I am glad that the Bilateral Air Service Agreement between Zimbabwe and Mozambique is now compliant with the Yamoussoukro Decision of a liberalised air transport market. In this regard, I wish to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the nation of Mozambique for providing the vital air connectivity through LAM Mozambique airlines.

“As you are now aware, the Government of Zimbabwe has invested massively in airports upgrades across the country, hence my team in the aviation sector is going to work tirelessly to improve the existing air connectivity.

“In line with the International Civil Aviation Organisation recommended standards and practices for aviation safety, we shall be signing an MOU on aircraft accident and incidence investigation.

Of late, we demonstrated that we can collaborate in the aviation sector when we signed the bilateral aeronautical search and rescue agreement. I urge our departments, agencies and public entities under the purviews of our Transport Ministries to implement these agreements.

“I am also aware that in terms of Article 5 of the existing MOU in Transport cooperation between Zimbabwe and Mozambique, we should periodically meet on a bilateral basis, to review our progress in joint transport infrastructure projects. Let us implement legal instruments which we sign,” Minister Mhona said.

He congratulated officials from the two countries for their strong commitment to review, finalise, and implement the agreements between the two sister countries.

On Wednesday, Mozambique’s Transport and Communications Minister Mr Mateus Magala arrived in the country to hold bilateral meetings on cooperation in transport and transport infrastructure with Minister Mhona.

His visit comes after President Mnangagwa joined his Mozambican counterpart President Filipe Nyusi in witnessing the commissioning of the rehabilitated US$200 million Beira-Machipanda railway line last November.

Speaking at the commissioning of the railway line in Manica, Mozambique, President Mnangagwa said not only will the rehabilitated 318-kilometre railway line reduce transport costs, but it will also ease congestion at Forbes Border Post in Mutare.

Herald

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