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    14 Feb, 2022

    COMESA, SADC and EAC collaborate to ease movement of people and goods in the regions to boost intra-regional trade

    The smooth movement of goods and people across countries' borders is vital as it removes bottlenecks that hinder intra-regional trade.

    That is why the Southern African Development Community (SADC), together with its tripartite partners in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the East African Community (EAC), is working flat out to have legally binding standards to be met in all Member and Partner States to ensure minimum disruption of movement of goods and people during COVID-19 period.

    Under the COMESA-SADC-EAC tripartite arrangement, harmonised guidelines to facilitate transportation and trade of goods and services in the region have been developed to ensure that there is smooth movement of goods and people from one region to the other through a uniform set of laws that are hassle-free for transporters and travelers, resulting in greater benefits to the people of the region.

    The COMESA, EAC and SADC Member and Partner States represent 53 percent of the African Union membership, constitute over US$1.4 trillion Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which is roughly 60 percent of African continental GDP and a combined estimated population of 800 million, making the tripartite region an important building block for the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area.

    Road transport agreements and model laws/principles are among the guidelines that have been developed and adopted to ensure a coordinated and harmonised transport system to ease the movement of people and goods across the regions.

    The COMESA-EAC-SADC model laws and regulations for Vehicle Load Management (VLMA), Cross Border Road Transport, Road Traffic, Road Traffic and Transport Transgressions and the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road were developed and approved by Tripartite Committee of Ministers in June 2021.

    This means that transporters moving people or goods across the tripartite region have to recognise and abide by these laws to ensure their smooth movement. The model laws are coordinated and managed through the Tripartite Transport and Transit Facilitation Programme (TTTFP) funded by the European Union.

    The TTTFP provides a harmonised legal, regulatory and system framework for COMESA-SADC-EAC Member and Partner States to implement the harmonised minimum standards in cross border road transportation under the Multilateral Cross Border Road Transport Agreement (MCBRTA) and Vehicle Load Management Agreement (VLMA).

    The TTTFP, which commenced in 2017 and was originally designed for five years ending November 2021, was extended to May 2023 to address delays occasioned by extended negotiations and consultations on the legal instruments and COVID-19 pandemic disruptions 2021.

    In addition, last year, the COMESA-SADC-EAC Tripartite Council of Ministers adopted Guidelines for Management and Monitoring of Safe Cross Border Movement of Persons and Personal Goods while Mitigating the Spread of the Corona Virus.

    The guidelines are aimed at ensuring safe mass movement of persons and personal goods across the region while mitigating the spread of the corona virus; and the harmonising national guidelines for the re-opening of air, land and sea borders while preventing the spread of COVID-19 across borders.

    SADC's blueprint, the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030 places importance on the development of good infrastructure that will spur economic activity across the Region.

    The RISDP 2020-2030's Pillar II on Infrastructure Development in support of Regional Integration aims to promote an interconnected, integrated, and quality seamless infrastructure and networks, including cross-border infrastructure, which will be pivotal in facilitating the movement of people, goods, services, and knowledge.

    The RISDP 2020-2030 places importance on harmonised policies, strategies, and initiatives in support of cross-border infrastructure and services.

    Recognising that the requisite regional infrastructure and services hold the key to economic development and regional integration, ensuring affordable access to such infrastructure and services is vital.


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