ARUSHAN, TANZANIA, Member nations of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have agreed to standardise their national road networks to accommodate motorists crossing from one country to another.

The road network in the 15-member sub-regional grouping was the main item on the agenda for the Association of Southern Africa National Road Agencies' (ASANRA) 31st Board Meeting at the Arusha International Conference Centre here.

The meeting addressed, among other issues, harmonization of the regional road networks with a view to creating safe, effective, efficient and sustainable world-class transport infrastructure.

Tanzania Roads Agency (TANROADS) Chief Executive Officer Patrick Mfugale said different levels of economies and individual countries' budget allocations had resulted in different quality standards, road and traffic signs. When member countries embark on construction of their individual roads, they should take into consideration SADC standards instead of just building them indiscriminately, he added.

Deputy Minister for Works, Transport and Communication Atashasta Nditiye, who officially opened the meeting, pointed out that most SADC road networks pass through Tanzania, which is becoming the region's road transport hub.

He added that Tanzania's classified road network measured 86,472 kilometres, including the Tanzania-Zambia (TANZAM) Highway, linking Dar-es-Salaam to Lusaka and the Mtwara Corridor, running from Mtwara Port to Lilongwe in Malawi through Lake Nyasa.

According to the Deputy Minister, Tanzania also hosts the Central Corridor, joining Dar-es-Salaam port to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and part of the Great North Road which runs from Cape Town to Cairo.

Established in 2001, ASANRA is an association of national roads agencies or authorities in the SADC region and operates in line with the community's protocol. Its main goal is to enhance regional policy co-ordination and road transport system integration with the key objectives of improving intra-regional road transport efficiency and lowering transport cost.

ASANRA also fosters the development, operation and maintenance of a regional integrated road transport system, cooperating with other SADC agencies in considering matters of mutual interest in serving the regions highway needs.

It also seeks to develop and improve methods of administration, planning, research, design, construction, maintenance and operation of infrastructure and facilities.