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Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Banning Abnormal Loads

Transport Minister Christopher Yaluma wants to ban the movement of heavy loads (known as abnormal loads) on the roads. “we are committed to rehabilitation works of TAZARA. So once the rehabilitation of the railway line is completed, I will issue a Statutory Instrument to burn abnormal load on the road network". Tanzania and Zambia has agreed to rehabilitate the line but are currently looking for finances. All the money is currently just going on salaries. TAZARA needs about US$ 700m to revamp it.

The idea to ban heavy loads makes no sense because not all heavy loads are ferried between Tanzania and Zambia. It is also economic folly because it is better to tax the vehicles proportional to the road damage than force them to use a less preferred mode. I know the Minister wants to help TAZARA but this is not the way to do it. 

Incidentally, if news coming out of Angola is to be believed TAZARA seems doomed in the long term once the Benguela line is fully operational. Angola announced last month that it plans to rehabilitate the line which run into disrepair during its long civil war. The line from the port of Lobito will reach Zambia's border.

Mining cargo will move along the refurbished 1,344-kilometer line linking Lobito with Luau on Zambia's border. When a branch line inside Zambia is completed Lobito will be able to comfortably compete with ports in East Africa for copper exports from Zambia and the DRC. Effectively dealing a deadly blow to TAZARA. Good for Zambian roads though.

Copyright © Zambian Economist 2013

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