By Mandla Zibi

In response to the havoc wreaked by the Covid-19 pandemic in the Trans-Kalahari Corridor (TKC) – where delays at borders have devastated the haulage industry – the Trans-Kalahari Corridor Secretariat (TKCS) last week held a stakeholder meeting to assess the situation.

“Some transport companies are winding up and others are barely staying afloat. The gains that Corridor Management Institutes (CMIs) like the Trans Kalahari Corridor Management Committee (TKCMC) had achieved in promoting efficiency on corridors have been eroded by COVID-19,” said Leslie Mpofu: Executive Director of TKCS in a statement.

“The advent of the Covid-19 pandemic has had devastating consequences on national and regional economies. The comparative advantage of the region has severely been compromised with exports and imports seriously affected,” Mpofu lamented.

The engagement brought together key stakeholders from the three TKC member states of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.

Mpofu said the main aim of the meeting was to bring together authorities and industry players to deliberate on the challenges COVID-19 has had on trade, transport and transit facilitation.

The gathering also discussed the effects of COVID-19 on the economy, and mitigating strategies were proposed. Participants also sought to understand how COVID-19 had affected new entrants into the industry, such as women, and how they could be assisted.

According to the World Bank Biannual Africa’s Pulse Report: “as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa will decline from 2.4% in 2019 to between -2.1% and -5.1% in 2020.”

The TKC is a tripartite trans-boundary Corridor Management Institution that was established with a political and economic vision to pursue or contribute towards the deeper regional integration programs of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and NEPAD.

It is a road network spanning approximately 1900 kilometers across Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. It begins in the Gauteng Province, South Africa and continues to Lobatse and Kanye in Botswana, through Mamuno and Trans-Kalahari Border Posts, and through Gobabis, Windhoek and Okahandja in Namibia until the Port of Walvis Bay.

Walvis Bay on the Namibian coast strategically links to other Corridors in the sub-region, namely: Trans Kunene Corridor, Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi (Trans Caprivi) Corridor, Windhoek-Luanda Corridor and the Trans Oranje Corridor.

Road network linkages cut across these Corridors creating a strategic network.

The TKC also connects the ports of Walvis Bay with the Maputo Corridor, resulting in the Coast-to-Coast Corridor.

The Corridor is known for providing a short transport link across the entire breadth of the South African Sub-continent. Compared to the traditional routes via southern Namibia to South Africa’s Gauteng, TKC cuts the distance by 400 kilometers, making it a more preferred route and providing cost effective logistical advantages to users.