A 24-hour one-stop border post between South Africa and Mozambique is essential for the Maputo Corridor Logistics Initiative (MCLI) to reach its full potential, says MCLI South Africa chairperson Mathews Phosa.
Speaking at the annual general meeting (AGM) of the MCLI in Maputo on Wednesday night, Phosa emphasised the importance of having the border between the two countries operate on a 24-hour basis, saying that this would enable the corridor to become more efficient and cost effective.
He said that a bilateral task team to enable this had been established.
A new bypass route for freight trucks, which was opened to traffic in June, has already led to some improvements to freight movements along the corridor, significantly cutting the transit time for freight trucks travelling between Komatipoort and the Maputo port.
However, progress has been hampered by the limited operating hours, he said.
Mozambique Revenue Authority representative Daniel Tovela told the AGM that separating the movement of freight trucks through the border from the movement of pedestrians had already, to some extent, assisted in decongesting the small border post.
During the AGM, the rail operators from South Africa, Maputo and Swaziland reiterated their commitment to making the Maputo corridor a success, emphasising the role it could play in bringing down the cost of transporting goods in the Southern African region and in boosting regional economic growth and trade.
Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) acting CEO Tau Morwe conceded that the larger Transnet group would be investing little of its current five-year capital expenditure budget on the Maputo corridor.
However, the South African State-owned entity wanted to make a positive contribution to the corridor's development, going forward.
He said that the rail operators could assist in the development of the corridor by increasing the number of trains. It was also looking at ways to resuscitate old rail yards and speed up the transit times of trains to enable improved movement of goods along the corridor.
Further, TFR was also looking at which commodities and products could be moved through the Maputo port. This included a number of commodities and agricultural products.
Meanwhile, Maputo Port Development Company CEO Jorge Ferraz commented in a note read at the AGM that the Maputo port would undergo significant changes and improvements in the next four to five years.
The dredging and deepening of the port by next year would allow for larger vessels to make use of the port, while the terminals at the port would be extended and new berths would be built.
To improve the transit processes of moving goods through Mozambique for importing or exporting, the information technology (IT) system at the Maputo port would also be improved as from 2011.
The new IT system would allow for standardisation in the way information is presented to customs and port officials and was expected to result in a simplification of current processes. The new system would be piloted in February next year.