New twist to Shire- Zambezi Waterway
President Peter Mutharika’s enthusiasm to resuscitate his late brother Bingu wa Mutharika’s dream through the Shire- Zambezi Waterway Project continues to face hurdles following revelations that Mozambique is refusing to be part of a cargo arrangement for the route.
The cargo arrangement, an agreement by all stakeholders on what goods should be transported through the waterway, has since left the three concerned countries, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia divided over whether fuel imports should be part of the materials ferried on the 1,200-kilometre waterway once it becomes operational.
Minister of Transport and Public Works, Francis Kasaila, confirmed in an exclusive interview with The Daily Times that there are indeed divisions among the three interested countries on the feasibility study on the cargo arrangement.
“There are issues that the countries are yet to agree on, more especially what cargo should be carried through the waterway as far as the economic feasibility of the waterway is concerned.
“Our colleagues from Mozambique say it [the waterway] should not be considered for fuel cargo while Malawi and Zambia say that it [fuel] should be part of the cargo on the waterway,” disclosed Kasaila.
He said the matter is one of the many issues concerned countries will need to address at a meeting that has been rescheduled to February 2016.
Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique were scheduled to meet in Livingstone, Zambia, in November 2015 to adopt an African Development Bank (AfDB)-funded feasibility study on the waterway.
“The meeting was rescheduled to February 2016. We are yet to be given the exact date when it will take place but that is the communication we got from the Sadc secretariat,” said Kasaila.
The development means that Malawi and other interested parties will have to wait a little longer before benefiting from the investment.
On the sidelines of a two-day inter-ministerial meeting in September 2015, Mozambique Minister of Transport, Carlos Masquitta, told a local publication that chances for the project were “very limited” as the neihbouring country is already committing millions of dollars to sustain Beira, Nacala and Quelimane ports.
He disclosed that Mozambique’s reluctance is also because the study results indicate that the country will require 100 million US dollars support for capital and maintenance dredging of the rivers as well as environment conservation.
“According to project consultant Hydroplan of Germany, during the first 10 to 15 years, the route will require 60 million dollars a year for maintenance dredging of the route. Mozambique will only load 250,000 tonnes of cargo in a year when they [Malawi and Zambia] are already loading 10 to 15 million tonnes of cargo a year in the other three ports of Beira, Nacala and Quelimane,” said Masquitta.
Meanwhile, The Daily Times visit to Nsanje World Inland Port revealed increased serious vandalism resulting from lack of security for its facilities.
“The current President [Peter Mutharika] is to blame for not carrying his brother’s dream of the waterway. We had hoped to get better jobs as promised by the late Bingu that Nsanje would become a city but look at us today, we have lost hope,” said George Nthingo of Thole Village, Traditional Authority Malemia.
Asked to comment on the matter, Presidential spokesperson, Gerald Viola, said the developments that have taken place at the port are a sign of commitment from Mutharika since he assumed power in 2014.
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