Gaborone — Three ministers of Transport from Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the extension of the Ponta Techobanine project.
The Ponta Techobanine project covers the construction of a rail line extending across the three countries of Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Representing Botswana was Minister of Transport and Communications, Ms Dorcas Makgato, for Mozambique was Minister of Transport and Communications, Mr Carlos Alberto Fortes Mesquita while Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Mr Joel Matiza signed on behalf of Zimbabwe.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Minister Makgato said the meeting they held in Gaborone was a third joint ministerial committee meeting specifically on Ponta Techobanine project.
She described the meeting as harmonious, given that the environment was cordial and it demonstrated what their member countries wished in terms of the project.
Primarily, she said they agreed on the need to inject more energy in the Ponta Techobanine project for it to become a reality.
Furthermore, she said the MoU was initially signed in April 2011 and was renewed in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe in 2016 as per the terms of the MoU.
"Its purpose is to try and facilitate movement of goods, movement of cargo from inland to the sea," she said.
The minister highlighted that Botswana and Zimbabwe were land locked countries, but Mozambique gives them the opportunities of the sea, which she said made it critical that the three countries work hard in terms of infrastructural development.
Ms Makgato pointed out that at regional integration, the trio must be cost-effective and that alone forced them as governments to look for alternative roads instead of being dependent on just one corridor.
She explained that heads of state would need to endorse the proposition, hence they agreed that it be done at the Mozambique summit in August.
The minister further stated that they agreed that each state should contribute US$1million towards the project's feasibility study.
Ms Makgato emphasised the importance of clarity in terms of references as it would help lure in the private sector.
The three ministers also decided to align the MoU with the duration of the project, as they had been extending the memorandum every three years.
<i>Source : BOPA</i>