By Bennie Mundando
GOVERNMENT says will soon sign and implement a Statutory Instrument (SI) that will give a 50 percent contract for inward and outward goods to local transportation companies.
Ministry of Transport and Communication permanent secretary Misheck Moyo has told The Scoop in an interview that the 50 percent transportation of goods to be imported and exported out of the country will be reserved for the indigenous companies.
“We are in the pipeline to implement an SI for 50 percent (of goods) in terms of imports and exports,” Mr. Moyo said.
And the Petroleum Transporters Association of Zambia (PTAZ) has commended the ministry for coming up with such a deliberate move to empower local transporters.
PTAZ Secretary General Benson Tembo has told The Scoop that Zambians are capable of growing capacity only if they are given the space to trade as opposed to giving contracts to foreigners who in turn externalise their profits.
Mr. Tembo says there are very progressive pieces of legislation which the country has, aimed at empowering citizens but that implementation has been a challenge.
“We are excited by the position taken by the Ministry of Transport to come up with an SI to mandate the mines, suppliers, and everybody else to give at least a certain quota to citizens but our submission is that we must not only limit ourselves to a certain quota but let us talk about 100 percent Zambians participating.
“We must not be confined to think that Zambia has no capacity. If Zambians are given the space to trade, they will build the capacity and that has been proved in the petroleum sector where a certain quota was given to the citizens and capacity has been grown.
“The President has been very consistent over these issues. The President is passionate about Zambia becoming a transport hub in the region where he wants to see Zambian citizens taking a centre stage in the business but who is there to implement that which is being pronounced by the President?” Mr. Tembo asked.
And commenting on the decision by the Botswana Government to give 100 percent of all transportation contracts to indigenous companies and its consequent backing from South Africa, Mr. Tembo says the move by that country is a wakeup call to other countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
He says Zambia has been disadvantaging its own citizenry using the SADC protocols which other countries are not observing.
“The decision by Botswana is a welcome move just like the South African Trackers Association have said. It is welcome move which is aimed at empowering the citizens. In most of the countries in the region, citizens have been left out and Zambia hasn’t been spared.
“If you look at the many transporters that we have in Zambia and the people who have a lion’s share on all the transportation business in Zambia, they are mainly foreigners. It is only in the fuel transportation sector where Government has put its foot down to make sure citizens are being assisted.
“Even when Government has done that, we have seen that there are those transporters who feel that they are so powerful that they want to start fighting the position that Government has taken. Zambia has tried severally to come up with regulation.
“There is a Mines and Minerals Act which clearly states that transportation services in the mine are reserved for Zambians citizens but it is not happening. It is mainly foreign companies which are transporting our copper,” he said.
“Government came up with Statutory Instrument No. 36 of 2011 to at least apportion a certain quota for Zambians in all aspects of trade and procurement. Are the Zambians getting that space? No. Government came up with SI No. 1 of 2017 which was signed by the President to create preservation schemes for Zambian citizens but it is not happening.
“If Botswana comes up with a law aimed at empowering its citizens, it is a wakeup call for Government that the laws that are available are implemented so that citizens start seeing the benefits of these laws,” he said.