President Edgar Lungu has said the integration of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries will soon be a reality as plans to connect Nacala region in Mozambique through Malawi to the Tanzania Zambia Railway Line have reached an advanced stage.
The President said the construction of a rail line to connect Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia would soon commence as a contractor was expected to move on site.
He was speaking during a State Banquet hosted in his honour by Malawian President Peter Muthairka at the Presidential residence, Sanjika Palace in Blantyre.
President Lungu was in Malawi as guest of honour at Monday’s 51st Independence anniversary celebration.
President Lungu said Zambia’s continued collaboration with other governments around its neighbouring countries had finally yielded results and further strengthened the Joint Permanent Commission of Cooperation (JPC) and the joint permanent commission of co-operation on defence and security in the region.
He said the JPCs have provided the framework for closer interaction in various treaties such as agriculture, transport and communications, trade, tourism and social development as well as in the preservation of regional peace and security.
“My Government is aware of the great economic potential that exists between our two neighbouring countries. “It is imperative that these abundant opportunities are fully exploited and utilised in order to improve the livelihoods of our people and also to contribute to the development of the region as a whole.
“In fact, we are working towards connecting Muchinji-Chipata Railway line to the TAZARA Railway line in order to open up trade and integration to the Indian Ocean,” he said.
President Lungu said there was therefore need to ensure that the private sector took advantage of existing infrastructure such as the Nacala development corridor, to enhance partnerships and joint ventures in order to exploit the probability of growth.
“Further, the Mchinji-Chipata railway and the Shire-Zambezi waterway are two channels through which Zambia and Malawi can better facilitate trade between our two countries, the region as well as with the international community at large,” he said.
President Lungu said it was for this reason Zambia attached great importance to the shared political, economic, and social aspirations, and also joint commitment to upholding the principles of democracy, good governance, the rule of law and respect for human rights.
He called for continued relations through regular meetings to exchange general information on matters of defence and security affecting the two sister countries.