Road transporters react to transport master plan

Road Transport Operators Association of Malawi (Rtoa) says it is not threatened by government’s plans to rejuvinate in rail transport and inland subsectors.

Recently, government committed to start investments to revamp the two subsectors to reduce transportation costs and ease pressure on the roads.

Government plans to rejuvinate rail transport

But Rtoa treasurer general Elton Viola said in an interview that while the move by government will reduce their volumes, demand to transport goods by road will always be available becauseof the country’s terrain.

He said: “There will be a reduction in the volumes that we are transporting now, but all in all, it is not that we will completely be out of business.

“We take this as a gain for us because it will cut on the quantity of loads being imported by foreigners. As local transporters,  we will be getting the loads from rail and inland water transport subsectors and transport these locally. So, we are not threatened because we know we still have a role to play.”

Ministry of Transport and Public Works Principal Secretary Francis Chinsinga said government is shifting focus to reduce transportation costs that are making some goods and services expensive.

He said Malawi is ready to shift from over-reliance on road transport to embrace revitalisation of rail and inland water transport to cut costs that are being incurred due to pressure on roads that is leading to regular maintenance, resulting in huge resource drain.

“We acknowledge that transport in the country is expensive in comparison with the southern African region because we have been over-relying on road transport disregarding investments in other means of transport.

“We are now ready through the National Transport Master Plan to shift to the use of rail and inland water transport which is cheaper compared to road transport. We believe that we will be able to save resources by ensuring that cargo is transported through these alternative modes of transport,” said Chinsinga.

The National Transport Master Plan, estimated to cost $9.5 billion (about K7 trillion) between 2017 to 2037, has investments for rail subsector worth $2.3 billion (about K1.7 trillion) and inland water subsector worth $191 000 (about K140 billion). n

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