BEITBRIDGE-Bulawayo Railway chief executive, Mrs Thembi Moyo, has been elected president of the Southern African Railways Association (SARA) at the organisation’s first board meeting held in Harare on Wednesday.
Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister, Joel Biggie Matiza, in a speech read on his behalf by his human resources director, Mr Andrew Murungweni, congratulated Mrs Moyo on her appointment.
He said he believed this was the first time in SARA’s 23-year history that it had a woman at its helm. She will be deputised by Namibia Railways TransNamib chief executive, Mr Johny Smith.
Minister Matiza said the region’s railways had the potential to improve trade and logistics competitiveness of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), given their suitability for transporting bulk products.
“The connectivity that exists among Sadc railways provides opportunities for co-operation among the operators to provide cost effective and seamless rail transport services, as dictated by the Sadc Protocol on Transport, Communications and Meteorology,” he said.
The demands on the economies of the region, as developing countries, require more than ever before efficient rail transport delivery systems, said the Minister.
Zimbabwe upholds the railway sector as a national and regionally strategic mode of transport, especially given its geographic position and the fact that most of the Sadc regional railway corridors pass through Zimbabwe.
“We recognise that railways have the requisite design capacity to facilitate movement of the volumes of strategic cargo being transported and traded through all ports in the Sadc region.
“We also recognise that industry impacts on the wholesale and retail pricing of our commodities, prices of manufacturing, agricultural and mining inputs, as well as on the competitiveness of our exports on the global market,” he said.
Lack of capacity coupled with inefficiencies had contributed to a significant decline in the railways’ market share, to the detriment of regional economies.
Mrs Moyo said the region’s railways were already linked physically and bilateral agreements existed allowing railway operators to operate on each other’s lines. The different railways were also working on standardising operational systems and infrastructure.