Beira – Zimbabwe road to be rebuilt by China

A truck leaves the border post at Machipanda to drive down the Beira Corridor, which links the port of Beira to Zimbabwe. This has always been a strategically crucial route for trade in Southern Africa. (The Guardian)

The Mozambican government intends to invest $400 million in the full rehabilitation of the road from the port of Beira to Machipanda, on the border with Zimbabwe.

Minister of Public Works, Cadmiel Muthemba, announced the rehabilitation of the road, which is about 300 kilometres long, will begin in February 2014. The finance is a loan from the Chinese export-import bank (Exim Bank).

Muthemba said that the road will be substantially widened. Along its entire length the road will be at least a four-lane highway, and in places, such as the approaches to Beira, it will have six lanes.

“The road will have roundabouts at particularly busy areas, such as the Inchope crossroads (where the road meets Mozambique’s main north-south highway), Chimoio city, and the towns of Gondola and Manica”, said the Minister.

Along some stretches the road will be elevated, notably along the Pungue flats. This is where the current road runs alongside the Pungue River. When the Pungue bursts its banks, which happens frequently during Mozambican rainy seasons, the road is swamped, and sometimes the flooding is serious enough to interrupt traffic to and from Zimbabwe.

Raising the road above the level of the river will be expensive, but will ensure that traffic flows in all weathers.

The Beira-Zimbabwe road will be farmed out for maintenance to a private company, which will charge motorists through toll gates.

So far, the only major road in the country with toll gates is the Maputo-South Africa motorway, operated by the South African company Trans-Africa Concessions (TRAC).

At the moment, the Beira-Zimbabwe road is in a poor and dangerous condition. In order to avoid gaping potholes, motorists frequently cross into the opposite lane, risking collisions with vehicles gong in the other direction. Emergency repairs between Beira and Inchope, which should have been finished in mid-April, are months behind schedule, and the Sofala provincial government is considering cancelling the contracts with the companies concerned.

The road is of key importance to the trade, not only of Zimbabwe, but of other landlocked southern African countries, including Zambia, Malawi and even parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The road that branches off the Beira-Zimbabwe highway at Tica and leads to the district of Buzi, will be tarred, Muthemba announced. This is budgeted at $150 million, and the money will come from the Indian Eximbank. Work on the Tica-Buzi road will begin this year.

But Muthemba lamented that there was no money available to rehabilitate the road from Inchope to Caia, on the south bank of the Zambezi. This is a key part of the north-south highway, and it needs thorough rehabilitation.

“We aren’t sitting back with arms crossed”, said Muthemba. “With the few financial resources we have, we are working on the most critical sections, until we find the money for a complete rehabilitation”.

However, a complete rehabilitation of this road was carried out less than a decade ago. Indeed, in May 2007, the then Minister of Industry and Trade, Antonio Fernando, boasted in the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, that the Inchope-Caia road, “used to be a nightmare”, but had been rebuilt to such a high standard that it resembled a racing track. Source: Mozambique News Agency

 

Mozambique – Single Window and other Customs developments

The Single Electronic Window (JUE) is a modern system of clearance of goods. After the revision of the whole legislation to allow the implementation of the JUE, the pilot project began in September 2011 in the port of Maputo. Here follows an interview with Kekobad Patel, the President of the Working Group On Tax Policy, Customs and International Trade of the CTA.

What was the adherence of international traders?

“We hoped more adherence of all concerned traders, unfortunately, very few participated in the pilot phase. During this period, both systems (manual and electronic) coexisted. There is always some resistance to change.”

When did the use of the JUE become mandatory?

“The use of JUE became mandatory on April 9, 2012 in the port of Maputo,on April 23 in the port of Beira, early May in the port of Nacala. The city of Tete is now also covered by the system because of the current requirements due to the establishment of large enterprises in the region.”

How many organizations have used the JUE?

“Since its entry into force until 15th of June 2012, over 7,000 import entries were submitted. We still do not deal with export declarations, transit, or special arrangements. These processes are handled manually.”

What are the next areas to be covered by the JUE?

“The second phase will begin in July 2012 and will focus on automotive, multi-modal and road terminals in Maputo, as well as the land borders of Goba, Namaacha (Swaziland) and Ressano Garcia (South Africa) that have received the equipment to begin operations. At the end of the year, the port of Pemba and the land borders of the province of Manica and Tete will be also covered. It will also be possible to treat the other procedures for export and transit. This is crucial, given the geographical location of Mozambique and its relations with the countries of the hinterland. Meanwhile, three Ministries will be electronically linked to award the import licenses: the ministries of Health, Industry and Commerce, and Agriculture. We should not forget that banks are also involved in the JUE. The BCI bank has supported the JUE since the pilot phase. Other banks have joined in recent months: Millenium BIM, Mozabanco and Standard Bank. We expect the membership of other banks.”

What is the biggest challenge of the JUE?

“The implementation of the JUE has led to a change of mentality: “paperless” in the country: less buffer, less paper. The government itself is also involved in the process of e-taxation that ensures that taxpayers should pay their taxes electronically. We still have problems to solve. For example, when a ministry inspects companies, papers are asked for… We need to think about alternatives. The castle must be built stone by stone to ensure it is strong and other sectors such as the public one and banking, are also involved.We believe that the entry into force of the JUE shows how to modernize the country.”

Is the JUE to eliminate the clearing agents?

“The law allows companies to make their own clearance process, but many of them are not prepared. In other countries such as Singapore, the most advanced country in terms of customs, clearing agents continue to exercise thanks to their perfect knowledge of the system.” Source: allAfrica.com

Other news – Mozambique accedes to the WCO’s Revised Kyoto Convention

On 11 July 2012, the Embassy of the Republic of Mozambique to Belgium deposited Mozambique’s instrument of accession to the International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures (Revised Kyoto Convention) with the World Customs Organization. The Convention is regarded as a blueprint for effective and modern Customs procedures, and will enter into force in Mozambique on 11 October 2012. Mozambique becomes the 82nd signatory to the Convention. Some of the Convention’s key elements include the application of simplified Customs procedures in a predictable and transparent environment, the maximum use of information technology, the utilization of risk management, a strong partnership with the trade and other stakeholders, and a readily accessible system of appeals. Will be interesting to see how Mozambique Customs treats the national transit procedure?