By: Mpho Shelile

Poised to move forward with a multimodal transportation masterplan to improve access to mobility and connectivity of suitable roads in Lesotho, stakeholders and expects held a workshop in Maseru last week.

In his opening remarks the Minister of Public Works and Transport, Hon. Matjato Moteane said it was an honour to address the third stakeholders’ workshop for the development of the national transport master plan.

 “Whilst the government found the process underway, I have pledged my support to this initiative as it aligns to the transformative and reformist approach that the government has adopted as its way to chat a development plan. I do appreciate that the journey to this milestone under review today has not been without challenges to both the consulting team as well as other stakeholders and the Ministry. The journey was carried through the adversity of COVID 19 pandemic which forced innovative ways to ensure progress towards attainment of this output document that shall be referred to as the National Transport Master plan,” said Hon. Moteane.

He stressed that Lesotho is faced with many challenges in the transport system but expressed hope that the government has done the groundwork to revitalise this sector and align supportive efforts geared towards economic growth such as transport, for it plays a huge role in the economy of Lesotho.

Giving analysis of the data collected, a consultant from TECHSO Dr Johann Andersen said the main purpose of the study is to provide and establish vision of direction for the development of active transport master plan. Some of the issues identified were; the northern route along the lowlands of Lesotho which carry a potential to act as a development corridor, adding that it would be mainly for connectivity and access. A detailed travel demand mode especially for Maseru which is reported to be affecting the plan for transport requirement. Dr Anderson added that objectives for development are to improve social services and markets in rural areas of Lesotho.

Mrs Lisa Cotton from the TECHSO team talked about different modes of transport namely: air, road, rail and water, adding that Lesotho uses road transport which is the cheapest but unfortunately the slowest with poor connectivity. Most tourists enter and travel around Lesotho by road, the air subsector is underutilised but has high potential. She said it would be ideal for domestic flights from Maseru to Mokhotlong and Qacha’s Nek to come into effect, also for footbridges to be built across rivers in order to promote rural connectivity.

The Minister said he was proud to say they have, collectively, prevailed and were able to produce a new road map for the transport sector for many years to come.

“While this new policy and structural framework for the sector needs general acceptance for it to be implemented, I should assure you that the government is the first stakeholder that must adopt this critical framework and provide the legal basis for it,” emphasised the Minister.

Hon Moteane added they as the government believe this project is an important step to take the transport sector in Lesotho forward, “as such I wish to assure you that as expected by the financier, the master plan will be tabled before the cabinet for adoption, support and guidance in respect of the legislative review necessary for smooth implementation”. He therefore thanked everyone for their dedication and commitment through the process, the consulting firms, the project manager, the sponsors and all stakeholders.