Windhoek – Stakeholders in Southern Africa’s transport and logistics sector are strategising how best to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, whose restrictions on movement have resulted in declining commerce, meaning less revenues.
With vaccines being rolled out, those in the sector are hopeful that movement of people and goods will start improving soon.
Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG) chief executive officer Mr Mbapahu Hippy Tjivikua this week told The Southern Times Business that it remained crucial to strike a balance between health and business imperatives.
“WBCG is mandated by the Ministry of Health and Social Services (of Namibia) as well as the Ministry of Works and Transport to spearhead the implementation of health and wellness services in the Namibian transport and logistics industry. Furthermore, WBCG has a co-operative agreement with the SADC Secretariat to expand these same services beyond the borders of Namibia, specifically road side wellness clinics in Zambia and Angola,” he said.
Mr Tjivikua said the WBCG Wellness Service was the first private sector collaboration with the Namibian government in the area of COVID-19 testing in Windhoek and Walvis Bay.
“Thus far, WBCG has offered COVID-19 screening services to well over 15,000 cross border truck drivers and 8,000 local drivers. The WBCG, along with its members, contributed considerably to keeping the transmission rates of COVID-19 within the transport and logistics sector below 10 percent,” he said.
He acknowledged teething problems in implementing SADC-wide regulations in response to COVID-19, but these had been confronted and the sector was now looking at growth.
“Our role is to sensitize and advocate with the relevant authorities to ensure that the measures that are being implemented contain COVID-19 and do not impede trade. We are consulting with government and neighbouring countries as well as the SADC secretariat with regards to the implementation of appropriate measures that will curb the spread of COVID-19,” he said.
Mr Tjivikua said while the pandemic created an unprecedented global health crisis, it was imperative that trade did not grind to a halt.
“With the imposition of border closures and strict migration measures, there have been major disruptions in Africa’s global supply chains. The Corridor Group is further working hand in hand with the various border officials and agencies as well as the industry in order to alleviate the congestion at the borders, while ensuring that Covid-19 regulations are adhered to,” he said.
He went on: “The congestion at the various borders are experienced across the continent in varying degrees. COVID-19 has brought to light the importance of harmonised and collaborative approaches between countries, to ensure that trade continues. The AfCFTA could benefit from this situation as neigbouring countries are learning how to engage one another with regards to cross border trade.”
He said greater integration of systems would enhance regional trade.
“Naturally, the harmonisation of border systems will affect the efficiency of the corridors and allow cargo to move faster with less delays, thereby increasing trade.”