Transport ministers from Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia have expressed hope of seeing the long awaited Shire-Zambezi Waterway Project take off soon.
Following a three day 6th Joint Consultative Committee meeting of ministers which started on Wednesday, the leaders of delegations from the three countries said the Shire-Waterway Project is part of Regional Integration that Southern African Development Community (Sadc) member states subscribe to.
Minister of Transport and Public Works, Francis Kasaila, said the meeting was aimed at reviewing and adopting a report by the Hydro Plan GmbH (pvt) Limited, a consultant procured by Sadc to work on the feasibility study.
Kasaila said: “As you are aware, each country has a different perspective of the project, so now it is time to analyse all the data and explore options available to map the way forward.
“So this meeting was trying to find a middle ground for all the three countries and work on all the recommendations that the consultant has pointed out,” said Kasaila.
The minister said it was encouraging to know that all the three countries have a common goal and are willing to compromise so that everyone benefits from the project.
In his remarks, Mozambique’s Minister of Transport, Carlos Mesquitta, said all the three countries want to see the transport costs reduced.
He, however, expressed worry over the report which, he says, is providing conflicting results which he was hopeful would be ironed out before the end of the meeting.
“You see, we all know that water transportation is cheaper than any other mode of transportation, but the report shows that the project is very much expensive and considering that we have invested a lot of money in the project, it is not good news. But as the meeting is still ongoing, we hope it will be ironed out,” he said.
Deputy Minister of Communications and Transport of Zambia, Mutaba Mwali, said his country is committed to the success of the project.
The Shire-Zambezi Waterway feasibility study, according to the consultants, is a viable project and it will only require the commitment of the three countries to see it come to pass.
The report is expected to be adopted in November 2015 in Zambia. n