A systems-based comparative assessment of corridor bottlenecks : the case of Beira Corridor
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The existence of alternative routes to serve landlocked countries within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the resulting competition between corridors provides the backdrop to this comparative study. Historical research compares corridors in terms of both direct costs and time delays, but without translating time delays and variability in time delays into the economic costs experienced by corridor users. As cargo owners form part of global Just-in-Time value chains, unpredictable time delays can have a devastating impact on their competitive situation within the global economy. Against this background this study takes a systems approach to compare the performance of the Beira Corridor with two other competing corridors, serving the same landlocked SADC countries served by the Beira Corridor: Dar es Salaam and North-South (Durban) corridors. The motivation for the research is the paradox that, while Beira port is much closer to the landlocked countries served by these corridors compared to Durban and Dar es Salaam, it attracts much less cargo compared to the other two corridors. The study compares the attractiveness of each corridor based on Total Economic Cost (TEC) from the perspective of the combined set of stakeholders, including transporters, retailers, and manufacturers. The TEC model includes not only direct costs but also the impact of logistics delays and variability in delays. It furthermore quantifies the relative contributions of ports, border posts and road travel to TEC. The study found that while the Beira corridor has the lowest direct cost to the hinterland if only average travel time is considered, the North-South corridor proves to be the most competitive corridor when the variability in time delays is also considered. Port’s efficiency proved to be the biggest differentiator between these corridors, followed by border posts and road links. This explains why the North-South corridors enjoys the largest share of cargo transported between the coast and the landlocked hinterland. Based on the results, the thesis recommends the use of modern ICT solutions by ports and customs authorities to streamline both the physical processing of cargo as well as the enforcement of compliance, as this has proven to be critical elements to achieve the levels of efficiency observed for corridors operated on other continents. Secondly the study recommends that transport policy, as implemented by the governments of the countries through which the corridors run, must support a higher level of competition regarding the provision of logistics services, as this has proven to increase the quality of service on corridors serving developed economies. Thirdly, for Beira corridor to be competitive, it is recommended that the identified physical and non-physical bottlenecks need to be addressed. This includes construction of a RORO berth to cater for motor vehicle imports and to establish reefer services for reefer containers for fruits and vegetables exports both of which products feature as having a significant untapped import potential for the four LLCs. The study recommends that corridor development and assessment efforts must consider all elements constituting a corridor, not in isolation, as is seen in most studies and initiatives concerned with corridor performance assessment and development. The study has confirmed that the absence of formal governance, poor regulatory processes, poor infrastructure conditions, modal capacity constraints and uncompetitive logistics activities, all create a host of bottlenecks that reduce the efficiency of the Beira Corridor. Through the application of a systems approach, the performance of the corridor can be assessed, incorporating all the impediments from the various sub-systems to allow for appropriate improvements and performance enhancement. This is confirmed by the comparative assessment performed in this study, to determine the performance of the Beira Corridor which was put in the context of competing corridors, instead of assessing it in isolation. Lastly the study recommends that efforts to understand corridor bottlenecks should not focus on one element such as physical infrastructure alone, but consider other factors, such as transport modes, logistics activities and regulatory processes. The dry port should be considered part of the solution, where it serves as an extension of the port to address the problem of congestion. It should play the role of an intermodal facility, which will lower logistics costs for users as rail is more competitive than road at distances 300km and above. This supports the systems thinking argument, that corridor performance is a function of a host of factors emanating from the various elements constituting a corridor. Since these elements are interrelated, they all generate different forms of bottlenecks that affect the efficiency of the corridor and can only be understood if a systems approach is adopted in the assessment of corridor bottlenecks and in the development and management of corridors in general.
- Engineering