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The ease of moving goods and services across borders is an important indicator of the quality of trade and transport facilitation in a country but unfortunately Zimbabwe is still weak in that aspect, a World Bank report has said.  The latest World Bank Global Trading Across Border list puts Zimbabwe at 172 out of 183 countries. Mozambique is the best performing SADC member state on that list at 132, followed by SA at 144, Botswana at 150, Zambia 153 and Malawi 164.

Zimbabwe has also featured poorly on Logistics Performance Index (LPI) of the World Bank scoring 2.25 out of a possible score of 5 based on six key trade dimensions, which include efficiency of the clearing process by border control agencies and customs, quality of trade and transport related infrastructure, ease of arranging competitively priced shipments, competence and quality of logistics services and ability to track and trace consignments.

Speaking at the launch of the of the Trade and Transport facilitation assessment (TTFA) report yesterday, Tadeous Chifamba, perm sec for Regional Integration and International Cooperation said he was hopeful the country’s LPI will improve with the introduction of the ASYCUDA World and pre-clearance which would see an efficient movement of cargo at the border posts.

Chifamba said measures were underway to further expand the Beitbridge border post having but noted the countries could set up a new one. He said they were developing the Beira Limpopo transport corridors in a bid to make Zimbabwe the transport hub for the region.

Chifamba said that negotiations are underway to establish more One Stop Border Posts and computerization of trade licences and permits in order to address the problem of border delays.

In terms of infrastructure projects, he said the government through a PPP had completed the feasibility study on Harare-Beitbridge road in February this year.

According to the TTFA report done by Medicine Masiiwa with funding from the World Bank. Improving transport infrastructure should be one of the key government priorities. The report says based on the current budget, it will take more than 112 years to rehabilitate all the roads as envisaged by government in the MTP given that a total $2 b is required.

The report suggests that the short term strategy should focus on low cost interventions with high economic impact. The interventions should be implemented within the next year or two should include according to priority: repairing the regional corridors which have a total length of 2 307 km but about 5% of that was in poor condition. “About 10% is in fair condition giving a total length of 345km of regional corridors that need repair. The repair work includes pot-hole patching, filling of cracks, edge repairs, replacement of road signs etc.”

The second intervention would be to repair urban roads as 25% of the network is in poor condition. The government should also repair paved primary and secondary roads as well as maintain the unpaved secondary roads.

The report says in the medium to long term, government should speed up the dualisation of major truck roads to ensure that road expansion keeps pace with increasing traffic density.

The World Bank says that almost 70 000km of roads, equivalent to about 80% of the total network is in need of rehabilitation. Zimbabwe has a total road network of 88 100km. At an average rehabilitation cost of $350 000 per km lane, a total of $24.5 b would be needed.

“Yet at the last budget, only $17.7 m was set aside for roads,” says the report.

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