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Ministry of Transport and Communications (MTC)
PONTA Techobanine Project.
19/04/11
It is anticipated that the project will provide improved distribution of regional traffic among corridors in Southern Africa,
Minister of Transport and Communications, Hon. Paulo F. Zueula

Governor of the Maputo Province, Her Excellency Lucilia Jose Manuel Hama

Mocambique’s High Commissioner to Botswana, His Excellency Tiago Castigo  

Ministers of Transport and Communications, Hon. Paulo F. Zucula of Mocambique and Hon. Nicholas Goche of Zimbabwe

Governor of the Province of Maputo

Mocambique’s High Commissioner to Botswana, His Excellency Tiago Castigo

Botswana’s acting Ambassador to Zimbabwe and Mocambique, Mr. Thabo Batlhoki

Permanent Secretaries in the Ministries of Transport and Communications from Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe

Representative of the SADC Secretariat

Botswana, Mocambican and Zimbabwean Government Officials

Chief Executive Officers of Botswana Railways, CFM of Mocambique and National Railways of Zimbabwe

Members of the Joint Technical Committee from Botswana, Mocambique and Zimbabwe

Captains of the Transport Logistics Industry

Members of the Media fraternity

Esteemed Ladies and Gentlemen 

It is my pleasure and honour to grace and bear witness to this historic occasion. On behalf of the Government  and the people  of Botswana I am also honoured by the presence of all distinguished guests from Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe who found time to observe the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on the development of the proposed Ponta Techobanine Inter-Regional Heavy Haul Railway Project and a deep sea port in Mocambique.

I am very happy  that once again I am in Mozambique to complete a task which was started last year but would remain incomplete for ever if Zimbabwe had been left out. 

Botswana and Mozambique signed the MoU in July 2010. My colleagues, honourable Minister Zucula and myself brought our heads together to approach Zimbabwe to bring her into the fold of this project.  Both honourable Zucula and his Excellency Dr Salomao of the SADC Secretariat offered to discuss with Zimbabwe to have this project at a tripartite level. 

We are today signing a complete document committing to the vows we as SADC countries have made towards joint economic development of our region.   

Botswana and Zimbabwe are landlocked countries that require additional trade routes like this one which will ensure that their exports and imports flow at relative speed to avoid lengthy storage periods at ports of entry, particularly if they tend to be congested most of the time.  

Apart from the existing road network Botswana has with her neighbours  the country has only one railway line connecting her to both South Africa in the south and Zimbabwe in the north east since the time of Cecil John Rhodes.  That scenario is about to change.  It is an absolute fact that an efficient transport system is the backbone to every country’s economic development and trade enhancement.

As a landlocked country Botswana welcomes this project and other developments to enhance trade facilitation  in the SADC region.

The project is expected to bring substantial economic benefits to our three countries and beyond.  It will provide the catalyst for the diversification of our economy from its continued reliance on diamond.   

The project will also shift the country from its current constrained and landlocked physical position to a point where it will become a key transportation, mining and manufacturing player in Southern Africa. 

 In the case of fuel supplies, the Government has a long term initiative to source petroleum products from  the Republic of Mocambique through the Republic of Zimbabwe in an effort to ensure security in the supply of petroleum products in Botswana. 

Botswana Railways has been identified by the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources for the transportation of fuel from Mocambique.  In collaboration with CFM of Mocambique, Botswana Railways has been transporting huge   tonnes of fuel from Maputo to Francistown since last year to avert serious shortages which the country experienced from time to time.   

I wish to warmly applaud the Government and people of Zimbabwe for facilitating the haulage of fuel through its territory from Mozambique to Botswana.   

Indeed the MoU we are signing today serves as testimony of the  close collaboration amongst our countries  in the facilitation of trade and the movement of people across our borders and the region at large. Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe have in the past collaborated through the Frontline States, an alliance that also included Angola, Tanzania and Zambia which fought against apartheid in South Africa and for the liberation of the people of Namibia. 

Now that we have found political freedom, we must struggle for economic emancipation, according to the Great Ghanaian and African Revolutionary and Philosopher, Kwame Nkrumah.  Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe must find alternative trade routes for the improvement of the quality of life of their people and the attraction of foreign direct investment for the diversification of their economies. 

 Alternative trade routes will also improve the competitiveness of our countries as well as market access for our export commodities in the global economy.

 The Ponto Techobanine Inter Regional Heavy Haul Railway project is expected to facilitate the development of mining, investment and manufacturing opportunities that have been stunted in Botswana due to lack of seaport facilities for the importation of material and components, and exports of ore, products and finished commodities. 

In terms of the SADC protocol on Transportation and Investment the project is anticipated to initiate new industrial growth, with a great deal of regional significance in Botswana, Mocambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Swaziland.

 It is anticipated that the project will provide improved distribution of regional traffic among corridors in Southern Africa, increased regional integration and international cooperation and provide for fast implementation of a fundamental regional transportation backbone through private sector innovation, finance and commercial and management expertise.

 Ladies and Gentlemen, I have spoken on the deliverables of the proposed project whose Memorandum of Understanding is being signed today, the 15th of April in the year of our Lord 2011.  What is the way forward. 

The next phase will be characterized by the finalization of detailed designs on the railway line, followed by construction. Thereafter, Botswana, Mocambique, Zimbabwe and Swaziland, in the true spirit of the SADC protocol on Transport and Investment will reap, amongst others, the following economic benefits:

A substantial increase in the value of exports, a considerable contribution to the Gross Domestic Product, Job creation, Economic diversification accompanied by economic growth and development in each participating country. 

I wish to congratulate the Governments of Botswana, Mocambique and Zimbabwe for participating in this initiative at the Ministerial level and through the Joint Technical Committee and the private sector.  Such involvement should similarly include project monitoring and evaluation through regular briefing sessions for our various Governments.  We need to move much faster.  

Similarly I extend my gratitude to quasi Government Companies such as Botswana Railways, CFM Railways of Mocambique and the National Railways of Zimbabwe and other stakeholders, particularly in the transport sector for showing keen interest in the project and gracing this auspicious occasion. 

Last but not least, it is now my singular honour to declare the readiness of the Government of Botswana to sign in the presence of all gathered here today, the Memorandum of Understanding on the development of the Ponto Techobanine Inter-Regional heavy haul railway line and deep sea-port project with  the Governments of Mocambique and Zimbabwe.

Thank you.

 PULA                       PULA                             PULA  

 

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