Three Sadc members keen to join Zim-Moza Beira Corridor route Last Wednesday, Mozambique’s Transport and Communications Minister Mr Mateus Magala arrived in Zimbabwe to hold bilateral meetings on co-operation in transport and transport infrastructure with Zimbabwean Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona.

Freeman Razemba-Senior Reporter

THE Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi and Zambia are keen to join Mozambique and Zimbabwe who have signed a memorandum of understanding over the Beira Corridor route.

Zimbabwe will soon write to the SADC secretariat to state that the DRC, Malawi and Zambia have expressed interest to come on board.

The development comes after Zimbabwe and Mozambique agreed to refurbish and extend the 10km railway line that stretches from Machipanda to Mutare, linking their two systems, within the next three months.

The Transport Ministers of the two countries recently confirmed the development during a tour of the Forbes and Machipanda border posts. 

Last Wednesday, Mozambique’s Transport and Communications Minister Mr Mateus Magala arrived in Zimbabwe to hold bilateral meetings on co-operation in transport and transport infrastructure with Zimbabwean Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona.

His visit came 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.

In an interview, Transport and Infrastructural Development Permanent Secretary Engineer Joy Makumbe confirmed the interest of the three SADC member states to come on board for the upgrading of the transport corridor .

“Our discussion mostly was on the Beira Corridor where Mozambique and Zimbabwe are signatories to that MoU. But the discussion was that we also incorporate DRC, Malawi and Zambia who have also expressed interest to be beneficiaries of that agreement. 

“So what we will be doing is that as Zimbabwe, is to write a letter to the SADC secretariat who are the ones that actually administer this MoU that DRC, Malawi and Zambia have expressed interest to come on board,” she said.

The Permanent Secretary first held a meeting with Mozambican officials led by Mr Ambrósio Sitoe, the Permanent Secretary in the Mozambican Ministry of Transport and Communications in Harare.

Already Forbes and Machipanda Border Posts have been upgraded to be open 24 hours a day and that has been rolled out smoothly from last Monday, with commercial trucks and people being served day and night.

Stakeholders welcomed the development, which they said was long overdue, and will increase business and revenue inflows for the two countries.

Of late, long winding queues of commercial trucks had become a common sight in Mutare, resulting in congestion, especially along Park Road and the flyover section along the Mutare-Chimanimani Road.

Forbes Border Post, which dates back to the 1890s, has now evolved to become one of the busiest ports of entry in the country, thanks to its proximity to the busy seaport of Beira.

The border post serves almost half of the SADC region and is clearing about 550 haulage trucks every day.

Plans by the Government are also at an advanced stage to relocate Grand Reef Airport west of Mutare to Mutasa South District where there is enough flat land for a new modern airport.

At the same time other roads around Mutare are to be rehabilitated under the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme Phase 2.

Last Friday, Minister Mhona, his deputy Joshua Sacco and Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution Misheck Mugadza, among other senior Government officials, toured Forbes Border Post and the proposed airport site.

Plans to construct a 33km stretch of road to divert trucks round Christmas Pass in Mutare to take them directly to an upgraded Forbes Border Post at the edge of the city are also now at an advanced stage after Government recently entered into a partnership with local contractor Leengate Private Limited.

The planned Christmas Pass bypass comes after numerous accidents in the area, particularly involving heavy vehicles.

Barely a week passes by without an accident being recorded at Christmas Pass, with some of them being fatal. In some of the cases, goods worth thousands of dollars are damaged.

The proposed partnership between the Government and Leengate Private Limited for the Mutare by-pass road will see the construction of a 26km road by Leengate to skirt the Christmas Pass road to Forbes Border Post, relieving congestion on the old road, which has become unsafe owing to inadequate carrying capacity.

The project is expected to dovetail with the construction of a new dry port to improve cargo clearance at the border post.

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