- She becomes the first foreign president to address the house
ZAMBIA: HISTORY has been written as President Dr Samia Suluhu Hassan addressed the Zambia Parliament on Wednesday, strongly advocating for swift reforms of the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) to foster trade and cooperation between the two countries.
Addressing the August House as part of her three-day State Visit in Zambia at the invitation of the Zambian counterpart, President Hakainde Hichilema, Dr Samia said the iconic TAZARA can bring tremendous historic prosperity if utilised fully.
“While fully operational, TAZARA can carry five million metric tonnes of cargo. Last year records indicate that the railway could only use four per cent of its capacity to carry 210,000 metric tonnes. Clearly more work needs to be done to utilise TAZARA’s full capacity,” said Dr Samia who became the first foreign president to address Parliament.
She noted that the two governments were aware of the importance of TAZARA to the economies, stressing that joint efforts will be required to resolve the challenges facing the authority.
Dr Samia called upon the Zambia Parliamentarians to support the various initiatives undertaken to promote trade and investment between the two countries including passing the necessary legislation to support these projects most notably the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Act.
President Samia appealed for joint initiatives to facilitate leasing and mobilisation of resources for innovations, indicating the same call for the Tanzania-Zambia Mafuta Pipeline (TAZAMA).
“Expanding TAZAMA pipeline is key for Zambia’s energy security and we commit to doing so jointly. We will factor in all necessary considerations, including environmental and security issues among others,” she said.
As for the Tanzania Zambian Highway (TANZAM), she said linking the two countries has some patches that need major upgrade, expressing Tanzania’s readiness to embark on joint resources operationalisation efforts with Zambia to finance upgrades of this important infrastructure to further facilitate trade.
She reminded of the critical role played by parliamentarians in fostering bilateral relations, stating that the good intentions of the two governments required solid backing of respective parliaments, if they are to bring the intended outcomes.
“Members of Parliament represent the people and engage in debates about government plans, budgets and programmes. These plans require political backing or funding, meaning Parliamentary approval is crucial.
Dr Samia was keen to note that the feedback Tanzania was getting from the people living along shared borders is that the existing legal framework will be friendlier to business and trade if there is no politicising of frameworks.
As such, when the two governments present informed proposals to address this non-tariff barriers raised by the support of the Parliament is usually critical to solve these impediments.
“In the same vein, in the near future our bilateral relations may result in renovating existing shared infrastructure or constructing new ones or new projects.
As MPs your role is to ensure these projects are realised and it’s also important to get community support to better guarantee sustainability of the projects,” stated the president.
She further noted that the volume of trade between Tanzania and Zambia and cargo from Dar es Salaam transiting Zambia is increasing considerably, giving the potential for further trade growth between the two countries.
“We have made deliberate efforts to increase efficiency at the Dar es Salaam Port by designating a 20-hectares at Kwala Dry Port for cargo destined for Zambia. We will facilitate a longer storage period of up to 45 days from the current 15 days at the Dar Port.
“Development of the Tanzania Single Window System aiming to enhance efficiency in the processing of documentation is among such measures to improve our interaction,” she said.
Also, the country is finalising a review of the port tariff book that will set an equal system of charging wharfage by three US dollars per tonne or cubic metre.
Recently, Tanzania entered into an agreement with a Dubai Company to operate part of the Dar Port, whereby more transformative changes are envisaged in terms of improved efficiency and reduced ship turn around and CIF costs.
She indicated that was an opportunity for the Zambian brothers and sisters not to afford to miss the action.
Likewise, Tunduma and Nakonde border was described as a crucial trade spot between the two countries. During bilateral talks with her counterpart, they set in measures to address bottlenecks that exist in the movement of goods and people along the border.
President Samia said removing bureaucratic impediments is necessary for the two countries to enjoy the benefits of trade.
She exerted Tanzania’s readiness to support the construction of the new Kasesya-Zombe border post, to ease the movement of people and goods.
She also assured the Parliament that Tanzania is prepared to further facilitate the movement of people between the two countries by extending the visa free entry period from 90 days to 180 days.
She appealed to Zambian Parliamentarians to transmit her message to the Zambians to trade with Tanzania as well as deliver the message of transformations underway in Tanzania, to ease movement and further facilitate trade.
She also called upon them to continue to voice the concerns of challenges of Zambians trading in Tanzania and vice versa, so that the two governments can table the matters and swiftly address them.