Transport Operators Cry Foul

Botswana passenger and freight operators have complained of an unfair and sour business climate in Zambia over heavy fees and levies that are required of them.Speaking at a Botswana-Zambia joint committee in Kasane, Botswana operators felt that as a result of such fees, operating in Zambia no longer looked viable and sustainable for their businesses.The meeting sought to discuss passenger and freight transportation affecting cross-border movement between the two countries.Representing Botswana’s Truckers Association, Dr Comfort Mokgothu noted that doing business for them in Zambia was too expensive as they were required to pay too many taxes and levies, which he said are selective to which country one originates from.“For instance, a South African truck is required to pay US$110 in toll fees while a truck from Botswana pays $541 for a single trip,” he said.

This figure, he said, does not include the additional carbon tax, council levy and the road service license permit that they are also required to pay pushing the figure up to P10 000.In comparison, he said Zambian trucks only pay around P1630 when they operate in Botswana.“As a result of such exorbitant fees, Botswana trucks have now been pushed out of transporting salt from Botash, which is made in Sua as this simply does not make any business sense,” he added.
Truckers also complained of inconsistencies with weighing formulas, which they said are not in line with South African Development Community (SADC) protocols.another member of the truckers association, Mr Anthony Lee.

A representative from Botswana Buses Association Mr Ndaba Nkiwane also lamented the heavy fees they are charged when crossing the ferry as Batswana operators.“We get charged US$65 at the ferry while a Zambian registered bus is charged only K123,” he said.Additionally they also have to pay loading bay fees in Zambia amounting to K2 000, which is roughly the same amount in Pula.Moreover, axle weight limits, which have been increased by SADC, have not been implemented by Zambia and all these factors have soured the business climate for Batswana who operate in Zambia.Responding to some of these queries, one of the Zambian officials Ms Flavia Musonda from Road Transport and Safety Agency, noted that most of these fees were reciprocal, based on existing bilateral agreements or the lack thereof between the two countries.

She added that most countries in the region had implemented SADC’s US$10/100 kilometre formula, which Botswana has apparently not implemented. “As a result, we are forced to charge Batswana with a different formula as they have not implemented the SADC protocol, whereas countries such as South Africa have implemented these, which explains their lower charges,” she said.Rates for Botswana, she said are based on weight and currently Botswana does not have toll gates.

Zambian officials also advised that it would be cheaper for Batswana if Botswana adopted a single permit system, which would cut back on the road service license permit fee required.“Botswana had agreed to implement the single permit system but implementation of the agreement is what is lagging behind,” the deputy director for Zambia Transport Mr Rodgers Nkando noted.The Zambian delegation has also promised that council levies will be looked into as they were already a contentious issue even in Zambia.

Challenges of Transport Across Sub-Saharan Africa

Even at the best of times there are many challenges that those involved in the road freight and logistics industry must confront when chartering territory in Africa. These challenges create incredible vulnerabilities to delays, non-deliveries, damage of commodities, loss of fleet and higher operational expenses. Unfortunately, these countries also play host to some of the most poorly maintained road systems in the world, widespread political conflict and hostile weather conditions. This is why collaborating with a sound logistics partner is key to ensure your valuable cargo arrives at its destination promptly and in pristine condition. This review analyses some of the challenges of moving goods through often treacherous parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.

A fundamental challenge facing logistics companies is the poor condition of roads due to inadequate maintenance and overloading. The CSIR currently reports that about 60% of the poor road networks that logistics companies endure in SA can be linked to overloading. You would also tend to think that the extensive road network in SADC and Sub-Saharan Africa would make moving your goods relatively seamless, right? Well think again; according to the Southern African Yearbook only a small proportion – approximately 20% – of the road network is actually constructed to cater for heavy-duty transportation. Botswana is considered to have one of the best road networks, yet only about one third of their roads are in a state that allows trucks to travel safely on them.

Another burgeoning challenge is lack of sufficient funding for infrastructural development in Southern Africa. Unavailability of adequate budget, absence of optimum public sector skills and technology, and much slower than anticipated private sector participation, has hindered infrastructural development. This in turn slows down the movement of your goods by road, rail, air and sea! Governments have responded with Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) in countries such as Kenya. However, ineffective regulatory frameworks for enforcement, among other weaknesses, have diminished the success of many PPP ventures.