The failure by Sothern African Development Community (SADC) countries to fully implement the SADC Protocol on Transport, Communications and Meteorology (the Protocol) and bilateral agreements in regard to road transport negatively impacts the seamless movement of cross border road transport and significantly contributes to the challenges faced by the cross border industry as a whole. The full implementation of the Protocol in regard to road transport, and bilateral agreements would lead to efficient cross border transport regulation and transportation and in turn culminate in reduction of challenges facing the sector. This would lead to reduction of transportation costs, improvement in productivity, and accelerated growth in intra-regional trade, regional economic integration and overall SADC socio-economic development. This paper outlines the extent to which the provisions of the Protocol and bilateral agreements have been implemented by SADC countries and the key challenges emanating from the partial operationalisation of the instruments. The paper is based on findings from engagements with key government and private sector stakeholders in the regional transport environment and various research conducted by the C-BRTA between 2011 and 2014. The partial operationalisation of the instruments has resulted in disjointed regulatory frameworks and inability to: holistically address corridor constraints/ non-tariff barriers, facilitate seamless cross border movements, facilitate liberalisation of access to transport markets in the region, harmonise standards and procedures, and facilitate economic growth and trade between SADC countries. It is possible for the SADC region to realise the aspirations set out in the Protocol and bilateral agreements, and this paper outlines some of the solutions.
To begin with, there is need for SADC countries to embrace the need to eradicate the existing self-centric regulatory approach limited to micro-needs and market protectionism. This would need to be underpinned by strong orientation towards the need to achieve macro benefits emanating from a regional perspective in regard to regulating cross border road transport movement. Taking off from this departure point, SADC countries can objectively establish a solid ground towards fully operationalising the Protocol and bilateral agreements. This paper outlines some of the interventions that can be implemented to ensure SADC countries fully operationalise the provisions of the Protocol on transport and bilateral agreements.
Paper presented at the 34th Annual Southern African Transport Conference 6-9 July 2015 "Working Together to Deliver - Sakha Sonke", CSIR International Convention Centre, Pretoria, South Africa.