By BUUMBA CHIMBULU
THE implementation of Statutory Instrument (SI) 76 which restricts movement of business and private vehicles at night has slowed down the economy and may damage the projected economic growth for 2017, says Professor Oliver Saasa.
Prof Saasa, an international economist, explained in an interview that the SI 76 would adversely affect the 2017 economic growth projected by Government as it had gravely disrupted the country’s economy.
Prof Saasa was reacting to a call by the Zambia Chamber of Mines for Government to immediately consider lifting the ban on local and international trucks carrying vital mining supplies to move at night because it had seriously disrupted production on the mines, leading to untold economic consequences.
“This is an unfortunate development that only tries to address a tiny fraction of a much larger and sophisticated problem and to the extent that it slows down economic activities.
“It is not the sort of thing that when you look at the projects by Government this year in terms of growth projection, it is definitely going to have a dent on the expected growth,” he said.
He said freight carriers worldwide were trained to move in the night to avoid being subjected to heavy traffic of domestic movement during the day.
“Immediately you stop them, you are creating another problem during the day; it slows traffic which leads to slow economic growth, but also increasing traffic volumes which can also lead to accidents during the day,” he said.
Prof Saasa said the night ban had seriously inconvenienced informal traders on whom 75 percent of the economy relied upon, who travelled in the night to procure their merchandise and drove back to sell the items the following day.
He emphasised that the solution to curb the accidents which led to the introduction of the SI 76 was to focus on the state of the roads and rapid development of dual carriage ways to ease traffic.
“The solution is that the state of the roads must be focused on, not only on the tar but also on signage. There are so many times when I can see a curve without a warning sign.
“So we have to start running away from the challenge that we know can be resolved elsewhere than shutting business at night,” Prof Saasa said.