BUUMBA CHIMBULU writes
THE road sub-sector should urgently be liberalised to attract private financing as tolling has also become an attractive option for managing traffic demand on increasingly congested highways.
This is according to the Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ZACCI), president, Chabuka Kawesha.
Dr Kawesha said the Road Development Agency (RDA) now learning and knowing the benefits of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) must urgently change the model and liberalise the road sub-sector.
Parliament last week on Thursday ratified Zambia’s participation in the AfCFTA.
RDA, he said in response to a press query, must start transferring capability of all road developments to the local and international private sector investors and focus on compliance, performance bonds, tolling and road safety.
“Interest in private toll roads is particularly strong because governments require alternative methods of financing their extraordinary transport needs. Tolling has also become an attractive option for managing traffic demand on increasingly congested highways.
“It is with some missed benefits from COMESA and SADC, and potentially from AfCFTA that we advise the Ministry of Infrastructure, Ministry of Transport and RDA act now. Start to transfer capability of all road developments to the local and international private sector investors,” Dr Kawesha said.
He stressed that the success of public toll roads in raising capital and advances in tolling technology, making tolling more efficient and convenient was growing in use.
Dr Kawesha said the current tolling model would not succeed, otherwise Zambia would have already seen all tolled road in first class state.
“To yield from the benefits of having good road models, RDA must move to liberalise then regulate in the AfCFTA era. This will attract Private financing in Zambia’s road sub-sector,” he said.
He further said: “once again congratulations to Cabinet on the approval to join the AfCFTA. We further call upon Cabinet to consider expanding the portfolio of RDA to include Railway. The Agency can be renamed to Roads and Railway Development Agency or Authority.
“We cannot continue playing silent to new Railway developments. Its only railway developments both Greenfield and Brownfield that will save the country more than 70 percent to 90 percent of millions of dollars that are being spent on road maintenance per year.”