The Centre for Trade Policy and Development (CTPD) , Southern Africa Cross Border Traders Association ( SACBTA )and the Zambia Chamber of Commerce Trade and Industry (ZACCI ) have commended Zambia and Botswana on the commissioning of the Kazungula bridge.
The trio noted that infrastructure development of that kind is critical to the realization of ambitions under the Africa Continental Free Trade Initiative.
CTPD Executive Director Isaac Mwaipopo however noted that the trade organisations are concerned with the proposed toll fees at the Kazungula Bridge, saying the outcome will affect trade, which will be increased in order to meet the toll fees.
‘’We think the proposed fees will hinder trade and there is a need to avoid application of exorbitant fees as these will become a deterrent to trade,’’ he said.
Mr Mwaipopo added that the Private Sector and Civil Society understand that government’s intentions may be around enhancing resource mobilization, however, the proposed fees will result in an increased supply chain expenses for goods and service traded through Kazungula.
He indicated that the proposed fees will result in increased illegal trade or reduced trade flows volumes through Kazungula Bridge.
‘’We are concerned that with such new barriers, aspirations under the newly launched Africa Continental Free Trade Initiative may not be achieved. Our fear therefore is that traders will be faced with a choice to choose between the routes with high toll fees, and low toll fees,’’ Mr Mwaipopo explained.
He explained that, in the interest of trade facilitation, the Kazungula Bridge is a good opportunity to enhance trade between Zambia, Botswana and South Africa and the goal should be to ensure trade facilitation with less trade costs and elimination of non-tariff Barriers.
‘’It is, therefore, our position that the government should revise the fees in the interest of all Zambian cross border traders and transporters. Jointly we implore the Government to inform the nation on the criteria they used to determine the communicated fees and how consultative the process conducted was ’’ said Mr Mwaipopo.
This is contained in a statement made available to ZANIS by CTPD Executive Director Isaac Mwaipopo.