The Common Market for Eastern and South Africa (Comesa) has dismissed fears by the Zambia Freight Forwarders Association that the introduction of the regional customs bond guarantee (RCBG) will cripple the local freight industry.

Comesa claims the RCBG will instead quicken the clearing of goods and cut the costs of transporting goods in the region, which has been estimated at 60% higher than the value of the consignment.

Director of trade, customs and monetary affairs, Charles Chanthunya, and senior programme analyst – insurance, Berhane Giday, have both allayed these fears.

The two officials say the regional grouping was gradually working on the reduction of the cost of freight rates in the region.

“The cost of freight rates are much higher, estimated at 60% of the total value of the goods,” Giday says.

The Zambian freight forwarders association has expressed concern that the RCBG will cripple the industry in Zambia.

Giday says freight agencies will not be required to pay collateral to insurance companies and there will be no need to establish agencies at the ports.

He claims it will be a faster way of transporting goods at a cheaper cost pointing out that the delay in clearing transporters was also a barrier in trade and the bond will be a guarantee at each and every border.

He adds that freight agencies will benefit out of it as bonds issued in one country would take them through to other destination.

Chanthunya has assured transporters that the bond once issued will be used throughout the region.

“It will work almost the same as the Comesa yellow card, as agencies will not be required to buy bonds in the country of transit and the destination for the goods,” he says.