The government has been urged to revive the country`s rail network in order to promote business opportunities in the southern part of the country.
This comes at a time when the government recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Botswana government for the Port Techobanine Inter-regional Heavy Haul Railway project.
The 2000 kilometre railway line will link Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique.
Speaking at the Bulawayo Investment Conference Province, Wednesday, a member of the BulawayoTransport and Logistics Hub, Mike Sullivan, said the country`s rail network can be used to transport goods in and out of the country.
“Bulawayo is the gateway and entry point of the country from the West and South although there are other border posts in Mashonaland and Midlands.
“The government recently announced plans to dualise Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu, Harare-Bulawayo, Harare-Mutare and Harare-Nyamapanda highways.
“There is an existing railway from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls. Costs could be significantly minimised if the existing railway lines were to be resuscitated and dualised,” said Sullivan.
Sullivan said it is vital for the Zimbabwean government to negotiate to be part of the talks on considerations of connecting the Trans-Kalahari railway currently underway between Botswana and Namibia.
“Currently we have trucks transporting goods between Namibia and Botswana. The Trans-Kalahari railway we are looking at such figures as $68 per ton as break-even price for coal cargo. These figures are still subject to change due to fluctuating prices for the commodity but it would be worthy for Zimbabwe to look into the deal,” he said.
Sullivan implored the business sector to utilise the 100km Namibian coastline which was awarded to Zimbabwe.
“Business people need to look into this option and make use it. A document to this effect has been already signed. We could develop the 100km to our benefit. Goods could be shipped into Namibia and be picked by a crane.
“The next time they are touched would be at the clearance bay in Bulawayo. It would be quite efficient as it would take only 48 hours. Namibia and Botswana are our friends, we need to make sure that we put down barriers and develop our economies,” said Sullivan.
He said there is also an idle railway line which runs into Democratic Republic of Congo that could be used to transport goods to the rest of Africa.
Sullivan also encouraged business people to build resilience from South Africa.
“Zimbabwe gets its goods from South Africa and South Africa gets goods from China, at the end of the day we pay South African a mark up which they pay on their goods,” he said.
A functional rail system is key to economic growth but the country`s rail network is in a deplorable state forcing businesses to move their goods by road.