NATIONAL Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) general manager Lewis Mukwada has been appointed president of the Southern Africa Railways Association (Sara) for the 2018 – 2019 period.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
Mukwada, who will be deputised by Bulawayo-Beitbridge Railways chief executive officer Thembi Moyo, took over from Christopher Musonda who is the chief executive officer of the Zambia Railways Limited.
Speaking on Mukwada’s appointment at Sara’s first board meeting in Harare yesterday, Transport and Infrastructural Development minister Joram Gumbo said government understood the importance of providing an appropriate transport infrastructure for trade development.
“As developing countries, the current demands of our economies and the nature of our independence and regional trade, especially in the Sadc region, more than ever before, requires efficient rail transport delivery systems,” he said.
“It is for this reason, that we are giving priority as a nation, to the improvement of both rail and road transport infrastructure development. Sara’s agenda is therefore particularly relevant for the socio-economic development of all the Sadc countries and more especially Zimbabwe.”
Leadership of Sara is rotational.
Sara, which has its headquarters in Harare, has three categories of members of the association. The categories are full members who are railways players in Sadc, associate members who are allied to railway industry and special members who are organisations or groups with vested interest in the railway industry.
Sara’s activities include co-ordination, lobbying and advocacy to initiating and playing a leading role in the implementation of regional projects for the benefit of regional railways.
One of Sara’s main goals for the region is to have the rail market share reaching 40% by year 2022.
Mukwada said he would be focusing on reducing infrastructure maintenance backlogs, regional rail infrastructure bottlenecks along rail corridors as well as seeking capital.
Sara was formed in April 1996 in line with the Sadc Protocol on Transport, Communications and Meteorology which stipulated the formation of regional associations for each transport mode.
Sara was originally formed to provide the Sadc railways with a strong lobbying platform to advocate for fair surface transport competition by “levelling of the playing field” between road and rail in terms of policy and regulations.