SSA Transport Policy Reform

Policy reforms at the country level are usually identified and acceptable solutions worked out through a process managed by a high- level steering committee with members from the major stakeholders in the road sector. An RMI coordinator is appointed to provide secretarial services and function as a focal point of the reform process.

The emergence of the commercialization concept, and the four basic building blocks for sustainable reforms outlined above, have made it highly desirable to include members from organizations representing the private sector or other stakeholders such as chambers of commerce and industry, transport operators' associations, or farmers' associations.
The character and level of the RMI coordinator position varies between countries.

Some countries such as Tanzania and Malawi have chosen to create an autonomous position and office with financial support from donors. Most active RMI countries have assigned the RMI coordinator responsibilities to a key civil servant in the principal ministry or department with responsibility for roads such as Director of Roads (e.g. Zimbabwe), and Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport (e.g. Zambia).

The policy reform process in most countries has included holding a national RMI seminar with participation from all major stakeholders in the public and private sectors. The purpose of this seminar is to create awareness of the need for policy reforms, to create awareness of options, and to build consensus on contents and process for further policy reforms.

Key issues that might be debated are:

  • who should be responsible for maintenance of the various types of public roads;
  • how to establish secure and stable flow of funds for maintenance of main, rural and urban roads;
  • how to involve road users in management of roads; what function should they have and who should represent them; (iv) delegation of management to autonomous road agencies; what are the opportunities, benefits and costs;
  • public-private partnership in the road sector, and to what extent should road works, services and management be contracted out to private enterprises;
  • labor-based technology and procurement, how to secure the best impact of road works on poverty and socio-economic development; and
  • what to do with large and inefficient government plant pools.

In most countries, the steps following the national RMI seminar have included multimedia awareness campaigns to build general support for reforms, studies to specify in detail the reforms to be undertaken, and study tours by key steering committee members, the RMI coordinator, and high-level technical personnel to other countries that have valuable experience and lessons to share. Some countries chose to advance the process through short and sharply focused studies by local consultants (Tanzania, Zambia), while others have chosen comprehensive and longer term institutional studies by international consultants. (e.g. Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique).

Donor coordination and the integration of policy reform activities with sector projects and programs, such as the SIPs, have been some of the more challenging aspects of the reform process in the participating countries. Experience so far indicates thus that deep government commitment and coordinated donor support may often be a precondition for timely formulation, adoption, and implementation of an efficient and sustainable policy framework.

Last Updated on Thursday 10th December 2009