December 6, 2017 / 12:04 PM / in 11 days

Zambia lifts ban on night driving for truckers to ease cargo movement

LUSAKA (Reuters) - Zambia has lifted a ban on night driving for truckers, imposed to improve road safety, after mining companies in Africa’s No.2 copper producer said the decision had hit commercial activity, the government said on Wednesday.

A truck exits the mine after collecting ore from 516 metres below the surface at the Chibuluma copper mine in the Zambian copperbelt region, January 17, 2015. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

The southern African nation last year banned night driving for public service vehicles, including buses and trucks in a bid to reduce the number of fatal road traffic accidents.

The number of vehicles on Zambia’s roads almost tripled to 700,000 in the 10 years to 2016, increasing road fatalities in the southern African nation, with more than 2,000 people dying last year alone, according to government statistics.

Transport Minister Brian Mushimba said the ban would remain in force for buses but that trucks, which also transport copper, the nation’s main export, would be allowed to move at night.

“We have separated the public transport from trucking business so that we can give an opportunity to the trucks that transport a lot of cargo to continue running 24 hours a day,” Mushimba said.

The Zambia Chamber of Mines, which represents foreign mining companies operating in Zambia, welcomed the lifting of the ban.

“The mining sector is obviously relieved that the measures... have been amended to reflect the reality of transporting essential industrial inputs and commodities on our roads,” Chamber of Mines President Nathan Chishimba said.

Foreign mining companies operating in Zambia include First Quantum Mineral, Barrick Gold, Glencore and Vedanta Resources

Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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