HARARE - The African Development Bank (AfDB) is set to commission a $1,5 million Zimbabwe national transport master plan study aimed at providing the framework for the sustainable development of the transport sector to stimulate economic growth and reduce poverty.
The study — to be implemented over a 28-month period — is expected to be jointly funded by the regional financial institution and the Zimbabwe government.
In a concept paper approved last month, AfDB noted that the proposed study would provide government with a strategic framework and investment plan for sustainable development of the transport infrastructure and services to support growth and wealth creation taking into account green and inclusive growth.
“The intervention is a means of realising the newly launched National Transport Policy to help meet the objectives of the Zimbabwe Medium Term Plan (MTP 2011-2015) and the Zimbabwe Agenda for Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim Asset 2013-2018),” said AfDB.
Industry experts claim that the proposed master plan has come at the right time when Zimbabwe is in the process of recovering from isolation from the international community. Hence the national and regional transport connectivity is a necessary condition for promoting economic activity and cross border trade for the land-locked southern African country.
Recently, government also adopted a Results Based Management (RBM) System that focuses on clear results, outcomes and outputs specifically in the infrastructure domain.
AfDB said it will support government with tools for the implementation of the transport sector policy through a short, medium to long-term master plan for interventions in the transport industry to support national development and regional integration.
These are areas which the bank has comparative advantage due its experience in transport sector strategic planning in regional member countries and in particular the Sadc region.
“The master plan will provide a framework for sustainable development of the transport infrastructure and services and serve as a leveraging tool for resources for investment in the transport sector,” noted the bank.
Zimbabwe’s transport sector comprises five modes, namely, road, rail, aviation, inland water and pipeline transport. The road network excluding urban roads totals 76 241 kilometres (km) of which 9 256 km or 12,1 percent are bitumen surfaced.
The Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) is responsible for managing the Road Fund and disbursing to the following road authorities while department of Roads in the ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development, is responsible for trunk roads.
Rural District and Urban Councils, and District Development Fund, are responsible for urban an rural roads respectively.
The rail network comprises a total 3 100 km of Cape Gauge standard (1, 067mm) of which 340 km between Beitbridge and Bulawayo built under a Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) arrangement is privately owned and operated by the Beitbridge-Bulawayo (BBR) Railway Company providing transport services to passengers, business and the mining industry.
The 2 760 km is managed by the government-owned National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) providing passenger and freight transport services.
The aviation sub-sector comprises ten airports, three of which are international airports, namely at Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls.
The other airports are located at Kariba, Masvingo, Buffalo Range, Mutare, Gweru, Beitbridge and Charles Prince.
The 10 airports are managed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). With respect to pipeline transport, Zimbabwe through the National Oil Infrastructure Company (NOIC) controls 21 km of the 287 km oil pipeline running from the Beira port in Mozambique to the Feruka Oil Refinery in Zimbabwe.
Water transport on the other hand is dominated by waterborne tourism, leisure activities, commercial and small scale fishing and sports on the Kariba Dam and the Zambezi River. There is however potential for water transport.
However, the general condition of the transport infrastructure has deteriorated due to inadequate funding for regular maintenance.