The African Roads Maintenance Funds Association (ARMFA) through its Southern Africa arm known as ASAFG (ARMFA Southern Africa Focal Group) held the first ever virtual ASAFG Meeting, hosted by the Secretariat in Zambia, recently.
In his welcome remarks, the Chairperson of ASAFG who is also the Chief Executive Officer of the National Road Fund Agency (NRFA) in Zambia Mr. Wallace Mumba said
the regional body last convened during a meeting held in February which was aimed preparing for the ARMFA Annual General Assembly which was scheduled to take place in March 2020.
He said that however, the General Assembly was postponed due to the increase in cases of COVID-19, adding that the secretariat then initiated the virtual meeting with the aim to get updates on the pending ASAFG business.
He said the Secretariat also saw the importance of members updates on the impacts of COVID-19 per country, so that they can provide support for each other where there is need and where applicable.
Presenting on behalf of Road Fund Lesotho the Road Fund Chief Executive Officer Mr. Nkekeletse Makara said even though Lesotho got cases of COVID-19 a bit later than other countries in the region, the impact has been severe as there was a precautionary lockdown imposed by government, which Road Fund had to abide by.
He said mostly affected by the said disruption of operations was collection of revenue, especially the one from toll gates as borders have since closed with the exception of a few which are operating for goods and services including emergencies only.
He told the meeting that Road Fund was also hit by a flu outbreak which compelled closure of operations once again for two weeks, as staff went home to recuperate. “Of utmost concern since the pandemic hit has been to ensure safety of our staff first, as the most important resource of the Fund”, he reiterated.
Other countries who participated at the meeting also tabled challenges brought about by the pandemic, with most of the confirming that revenue collection and verification of same remained the most affected of all operations.
Members agreed to keep each other informed of developments until such that that things would back to normal, if ever they do.
The virtual ASAFG Meeting was attended by Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia as host and Secretariat of the Focal Group.