Friday, March 18, 2011
Friday, 18 March 2011 00:00
By Fortious Nhambura in Kasumbalesa, Zambia
CONSTRUCTION of a new border post at Kasumbalesa between Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo has significantly reduced the time truck drivers take to ferry goods into central Africa.
The post is one of the busiest ports into central Africa for trucks from Durban into the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa. It was holding up traffic to the region, thus increasing the cost of transportation of goods.
The upgrading of the border post complements the improvements and the one-stop border concept introduced at Chirundu last year.
Constructed at a cost of US$25 million, the post is equipped with high-tech machinery that automatically records registration numbers, type of cargo and the length of the truck.
Since the post's commissioning early this month, the equipment has reduced the turnaround time for truckers from seven days to three hours maximum.
Hauliers into central Africa from Durban, the region's biggest seaport, pass through Beitbridge, Chirundu and Kasumbalesa into the DRC and the rest of the Comesa region.
Most of the trucks supply Katanga Province in the DRC.
The mineral-rich province is heavily dependent on road transport through Zimbabwe and Zambia for imports and exports.
Zambian Border Construction Company, a joint venture between the government of Zambia and an Israeli company, Baran Borders, built the border post.
Kasumbalesa border post has three entry and two exit lanes on either side and can handle 600 trucks a day.
Truck drivers interviewed said although there were still hitches, the new system had drastically reduced lag time.
"The upgrading of Chirundu and Kasumbalesa border posts has improved the flow of traffic and has reduced time spent on the roads," said Luckmore Muzhingi, a Zimbabwean truck driver delivering fuel to the DRC.
"Imagine, from spending a month on the road to 20 days. This gives us more time to be with our families. You saw that queue of trucks? It used to stretch for four to five kilometres. But it now ranges between 500m and one kilometre."
The new arrangement comes in handy at a time the region is battling to harness the potential of the transport sector on the continent, which the World Bank says is growing at a rate of 10,3 percent a year.