All roads lead to Kazangula – or do they?

All roads lead to Kazangula – or do they?

With the opening of the new Kazangula bridge between Botswana and Zambia scheduled for the end of this year, there is much anticipation among transporters, importers and exporters of a new golden highway from South Africa into the landlocked countries of Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Will it solve cross-border transport operators’ woes? MIKE FITZMAURICE isn’t so sure …

The 900 m masterpiece of infrastructure construction spanning the mighty Zambezi river at the Chobe/Zambezi Delta is now complete and just waiting for the commission of the two new One-Stop Border Posts (OSBPs) in Zambia and Botswana, which are linked by the new bridge. So much is the belief, confidence and hype around the new logistical linkage that the Zambian government has opted to move the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) regional offices at Livingstone to Kazangula. It is believed that the $70 billion (R1.1 billion) bridge will boost trade into Zambia with tangible benefits for revenue collection.

However, the new infrastructure development does not necessarily solve the corridor constraints. If the truck volumes significantly increase as a result of the shift from the shorter north-south corridor route from South Africa through Beitbridge to Kazangula, as anticipated, the question arises: will Groblersbrug/Martins Drift border post be able to cope with the volumes and will it become another Beitbridge?

I personally believe that it will move the problem from the beleaguered Beitbridge to Groblersbrug, as I cannot see how Groblersbrug will be able to cope with an increase in its current volumes (where it is battling to clear between 300 and 400 trucks per day with a border crossing time of around 24 hours). Double those volumes and you have another Beitbridge on your hands.

The problem at SA’s main border posts – like Beitbridge, Lebombo and Groblersbrug – is not the customs system capacity, as all trucks are pre-cleared before arrival at the border. The problem lies with the layouts of the border posts and the bottlenecks that restrict the smooth flow of traffic. These border posts were designed many years ago when traffic volumes were significantly lower, and they have only undergone some minor infrastructure upgrades to modernise the facilities. All these border posts have the same problem – namely, a single-lane entry and exit point for all modes of traffic, which means that, no matter how efficient your IT systems are, a good flow of traffic is impossible.

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Mike Fitzmaurice

Mike Fitzmaurice is the CEO of the Federation of East and Southern Africa Road Transport Associations (Fesarta). He has 42 years of experience in the transport and logistics industry with several major companies in South Africa, as well as overseas exposure with some of the leading transport companies in six European countries. Since 2004 he has established and run Transport Logistics Consultants. In May 2015 he became CEO of Fesarta.
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