Zambia-Daily-Mail-ESTHER MSETEKA, Lusaka
GOVERNMENT is expected to sign a statutory instrument that will compel the transporters to ferry certain amount of cargo onto the rail to cushion the damage on roads.
Minister of Transport and Communication Brian Mushimba is hopeful that the discussions with various industry players, which are currently underway, are likely to be concluded next month.
In an interview recently, Mr Mushimba said Government will continue to invest in both the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) and Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL) to boost the operations of the two service providers.
“We have injected over US$120 million from the Eurobond into ZRL and it has drastically improved the company’s operations. We have now started engaging transporters of bulk cargo to move on rail…we feel the rail sector has started going the right direction in terms of efficiency, speed and security.
“ZRL train speed was as low as 10kilometre [km] per hour but has since increased to over 50km/hour at the speed that the market can appreciate to move their cargo. So, when we talk about the SI to move certain cargo off the road, there will be an incentive for the market to actually move onto rail. But we will not force them,” he said.
Mr Mushimba said Government will continue conducting more investment studies to help the sector increase efficiencies.
ZAMBIA RAILWAYS SCOOPS BEST OVERALL EXHIBITOR AWARD AT THE CAMINEX SHOW
Zambia Railways Limited scooped the Best Overall Exhibitor Award at the Copperbelt, Agricultural, Mining, Industrial, Networking and Exhibition (CAMINEX) trade expo in Kitwe.
The Trade Expo which was until now known as The Copperbelt Agriculture and Mining Show was held from the 6th to 8th June, 2017 under the theme ‘Adding Value –The Home Grown Solution’.
Speaking after receiving the award, Zambia Railways Limited Managing Director, Christopher Musonda said the award was a sign that the railway firm has made tremendous improvements in its operations and services by adding value to the transportation chain.
Mr Musonda attributed the win to team work.
“On behalf of Zambia Railways Limited, allow me to appreciate my team for the commitment and innovations that are adding value to the transport logistic chain. This award signifies the value and importance of railway transport in the economic sectors of Zambia” Mr Musonda said.
And in line with the theme, the Zambia Railways stand attracted a number of high profile clients and stakeholders that included, the Guest of Honour, Hon. Margaret Mwanakatwe, Minister of Mines, Hon. Christopher Yaluma, Minister of Livestock and Fisheries, Hon. Michael Katambo and other senior government officials.
Zambia Railways stand showcased current projects and programmes being carried out such as the remanufacturing of locomotives and wagons, the inter-modal initiative aimed at servicing companies that are not yet rail linked, the Intermine rail connectivity on the Copperbelt and the new passenger service among others.
During her stand orientation, Ms Mwanakatwe was informed that the re-manufacturing of obsolete locomotives in partnership with SMH Rail of Malaysia was progressing well, and that three locomotives have been completed while the other seven were in the process of rehabilitation.
The Minister was further informed that the Zambia Railways Engineering Division at Workshops successfully carried out the remanufacturing of bottom discharge wagons into side tipping wagons to suit the current customer needs in the mining industry.
The other initiatives showcased at the CAMINEX Show include; the rail connectivity of Chambishi Copper Smelter to the main network for transportation of various mining products to the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Inter- modal initiative being done in partnership with Zambian Furnance Supplies for the transportation of coal from the Batoka Coal Mines in Southern Province to Bwana Mkubwa in Ndola for customers that are not yet rail linked.
The 2017 CAMINEX saw a number of new comers including the Nacala Corridor Logistics.
The Expo also for the first time included Seminars and Presentations by key industry players and academics.
Government has reiterated its commitment in pursuing and implementing strategies aimed at developing the railway transport in Zambia.
Speaking at the North- South Corridor Pre-feasibility study, Acting Minister of Transport and Communications Emerine Kabanshi said in order to transform the two railway systems in Zambia into a reliable, efficient, secure and cost effective transportation networks for bulk in the North to South Transport Corridor, the government has embarked on a radical program aimed at modernizing the railway infrastructure and rolling stock.
Ms Kabanshi said the North-South Corridor Study will therefore contribute to the modernisation of the railway system in the region as it will provide cardinal information required to understand fully the market trends, rolling stock and railway infrastructure required to meet the demands of customers in our ever-changing business environment.
“The study will also make available valuable information for prospective investors on the financing requirements to fully recapitalise the railway system along the North to South Corridor” she said
She added that the Corridor is very pivotal in transforming Zambia into a transport hub for the Southern African region and we will fully embrace all development efforts that the NEPAD Business Foundation, the Southern Africa Development Community and the Development Bank of Southern Africa have embarked on through the North to South Corridor infrastructure development study.
Ms Kabanshi was however quick to mention the government through the Ministry of Transport and Communications is in the final phase of a detailed feasibility study of the Zambia Railways network from Mulobezi in the Western Province to Chingola in the Copperbelt Province.
“The Government is however alive to the fact that the two railway lines (Zambia Railways and TAZARA) have not performed satisfactorily to position the railway sector as the preferred mode of transport in the North to South Transport Corridor” she said
She further said that the performance of the two railway lines has been on the decline for a number of years, due to limited working capital for the two railway systems which has resulted in deferred maintenance of the entire railway infrastructure and equipment, resulting in poor reliability of rolling stock and dilapidated permanent way.
The North South Corridor is one of the key import and export routes for trade moving into and out of Southern Africa and parts of East and Central Africa.
Meanwhile Zambia Railways Limited hosted the Pre-feasibility study inception meeting with railway operators in the SADC region in Lusaka.
Zambia Railways Limited is a member of the Executive Committee of the North-South Corridor which resolved to carry out an infrastructure investment and operating study.
The North South Corridor is Zambia Railway’s main international gateway for rail transportation of cargo destined for Zambia and other countries.
The NEPAD Business Foundation (NBF) secured grant funding for execution of the North South Corridor (NSC) study in June 2016.
The North South Corridor covers the railway stretch from the Republic of South Africa through Zimbabwe and Botswana to the Democratic Republic of Congo passing through Zambia.
The purpose of the study is to develop a North South Corridor (NSC) rail infrastructure and logistics for the rehabilitation and upgrade of equipment and infrastructure on the NSC.
The study will be used as a blue print to grow the freight and passenger volumes transported on the corridor and to reduce the cost of transportation through better price and service strategies.
The study is being funded by the Development Bank of Southern Africa(DBSA) through grant funding secured from the SADC Project Preparation Development Facility(PPDF).
The following organizations attended the meeting:
- Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL)
- Société nationale des Chemins de fer du Congo (SNCC)
- Beitbridge Bulawayo Railways (BBR)
- National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ)
- Transnet Freight Rail (TFR)
- Botswana Railways (BR)
- Swaziland Railway (SR)
- Southern African Railways Association (SARA)
- SADC Secretariat
- Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA)
- Consultant (Arup)
- NEPAD Business Foundation (NBF)
Government is happy with the track rehabilitation progress that Zambia Railways Limited(ZRL) has scored after the repossession of the railway firm from the concessionaire in 2012.
Minister of Transport and Communications Brian Mushimba said the capital injection of US$120 million from the Eurobond has yielded positive results in the track rehabilitation project.
“It is gratifying to note that after the recapitalisation of ZRL in 2013,the train speeds which were as low as 15km/h have been increased to over 40km/h with the ongoing track rehabilitation programme” he said.
Speaking during his tour of ZRL facilities in Kabwe, Mr Mushimba said ZRL is a strategic institution in the transportation chain and therefore there is need to create an environment that will allow it to succeed.
Mr Mushimba said the past performance of ZRL shows that the institution has potential and opportunity for growth and emphasised that it should operate as a profitable entity and be able to declare dividends to the government consistently.
He stressed government’s commitment in ensuring that rail transport is well utilised in the movement of heavy and bulk cargo and help in reducing the damage on the roads.
‘The Statutory Instrument (SI) to compel heavy and bulk cargo to move by rail is a step in the right direction. ZRL should position itself and be more creative and innovative in ensuring that the capacity is enhanced” Mr Mushimba said.
Mr Mushimba has observed that rail transport has not been attractive in the recent years, and that government wants all forms of transportation which includes rail to be accessible and developed.
And touring the ZRL Centralised Train Control (CTC), Mr Mushimba emphasised the importance of a good and modern communication and signalling system in promoting safety and security of goods and passengers.
Mr Mushimba urged ZRL management to revitalise its ZRL Workshop in Kabwe to its former glory of manufacturing farming equipment and furniture.
Meanwhile Zambia Railways Limited Managing Director Christopher Musonda said the consultative meetings on the proposed Statutory Instrument(SI) to compel heavy goods to move by rail has received overwhelming response from various stakeholders.
Mr Musonda said ZRL is positioning itself for the SI by increasing the capacity of its infrastructure and rolling stock to allow the movement of cargo in a more efficient and cost effective manner.
He further said the rehabilitation programme is an ongoing exercise and so far the institution has recorded strides in improving the train speeds and has made progress in the remanufacturing of locomotives and wagons.
The Minister of Transport and Communications ended his tour with the interactive meeting with employees at ZRL Workshop, where he encouraged them to be more productive and innovative in improving the operations of ZRL.
In October 2015, the use of a drone to monitor the condition of railway lines in New Mexico represented a significant leap forward for the railway industry and for the development of unmanned vehicle technology. Rod James looks at the operation in more detail, asking what technological and legislative breakthroughs are needed for drone deployment to become commonplace?
It is often said that the reason around 60% of Americans don’t have a passport is because they can experience the best of many worlds within their own borders. If a person is in no rush, they could hop on a train in Chicago that takes them through the plains of Nebraska, over the mountains of Colorado and Utah, down into the deserts of Nevada and finally to California and the clear blue of the Pacific Ocean. Covering 233,000 miles, the US rail network connects towns and cities of all sizes, crossing every kind of terrain and climate.
Such a large, varied network throws up a host of challenges as well as advantages. Maintenance is a massive ongoing task, particularly with large areas of track lying hundreds of miles from the nearest town. Track should ideally be inspected by foot on at least a weekly basis, especially in areas of the country prone to extreme temperatures, making maintenance a labour-intensive and expensive process.
The idea of using unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) to help with this process has gained traction in recent years. In 2013, for example, German state railway operator Deutsche Bahn started using drones to combat graffiti artists, whose work was costing €6.7m a year to remove. Now, realising the potential of the technology for use in the remote corners of its network, US rail operators are making the move into unmanned territory.
In October 2015, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Boeing-owned drone manufacturer Insitu and BNSF Railway, the second-largest freight railway network in the US with 32,500 miles of track, used a ScanEagle UAS drone to take real-time video and stills of 140 miles of track near Vaughn, New Mexico. Not only was this the largest drone operation to take place in the railway industry, it was the first FAA-approved beyond-visual-line-of-sight operation to be carried out with a drone on mainland America (drones have been used by oil companies in parts of Alaska above the Arctic circle).
As well as flying beyond the operator’s line of sight without incident, the team was able to hand over control of the drone to other ground stations along the track, suggesting that the potential distance drones can cover is hindered only by battery life.
“BNSF wanted more information than they could currently collect on their track and they wanted it with some velocity,” says Charlton Evans, Program Manager for Commercial and Civil UAS at Insitu. “They wanted the frequency of how they could measure and do inspections to go up, so that drove them to unmanned systems… This was an effort to see if we would give them the kind of information they were looking for over large areas of track without flying humans over the track. It was pretty groundbreaking as there was nobody in the airplane to see and avoid others flying around.”
Red tape and camera film
From a regulatory standpoint this operation was unprecedented. It took nine months of sometimes tense discussions to ensure that all ground obstacles and airspace were clear while the drone was in operation. The lessons learned from this process have gone into the creation of a formal document drawn up by the FAA, which provides a ready-made framework for future drone deployments. A lot has to happen, however, before drones can be employed at optimum effectiveness and in more built-up parts of the rail network.
The ScanEagle UAS, however, did not use the best available technology. As the mission was about proving rather than refining the concept of using drones for track inspection, the drone was fitted with one of Insitu’s stock cameras. While capable of spotting visible flaws like track erosion and warpage, more sophisticated cameras and sensors are required to pick up the small cracks in rails and spike that railway companies want to be able to see from the air.
To reach the desired level of sophistication, new technology will need to come to market. The Insitu team is currently looking at high-resolution still imagery and cameras that capture imagery in different spectra (beyond the spectrum of vision), which should be better equipped to capture detailed data while moving at high speed. For this technology to be drone-mounted, new developments in the miniaturisation of sensors might first be needed.
Another major challenge relates to collecting, relaying and processing the data that the drone collects. The drone used in New Mexico relays back video in real time, but this is unsuitable when it comes to the kind of in-depth analysis that Insitu intends to do. To this end, in December 2015 Insitu acquired 2d3 Sensing, a technology provider that specialises in using complex algorithms to process motion imagery.
“You couldn’t put enough people in front of monitors to watch the video in real time to see the kind of details they are looking for, so the data storage and analytics are going to happen on the back end,” Evans says. “That’s one of the hurdles the entire industry faces – massive amounts of data come in and sorting it out into the bits and pieces that actually mean anything to anyone is a huge problem.”
No lack of enthusiasm
The willpower certainly seems to exist on the part of the railway companies. The partnership between BNSF and Insitu has been extended beyond last October’s trial and the country’s largest freight network Union Pacific is also exploring the potential of drones, its CEO Jack Koraleski told Bloomberg in 2014. Both parties stress the use of drones as a supplement to existing methods, not a replacement (at least for now).They will be hoping that the technological and legislative pieces fall into place sooner rather than later.
“There’s a core of folks within the FAA who are very interested in making progress and when they partner with folks like us who want to meet them in a low-risk, high-safety way we can get it done,” says Evans.
“There were some difficult moments over those months [of negotiation]! But it was good because everyone walked away with a better understanding of the problems that we have to tackle.”
In 1975, China built the $500 million Tanzam Railway from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia, the single longest railway in sub-Saharan Africa. Forty years later, China helped build the first light railway on the continent in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which opened in October 2015.
In April 2016, the China-Africa Research Initiative (CARI) at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) released its exclusive database of Chinese loans to Africa (2000 to 2014). One of our biggest discoveries was that Chinese loans on the continent mostly go toward building connective infrastructure – roads, railways, and power lines – rather than pursuing natural resources via the petroleum or mining sectors.
Dissecting the Data
Previously, the Rand Corporation, AidData, and Fitch Ratings produced data on Chinese loans to Africa, but in trying to confirm their data, we found many problematic errors. Most frequently, these organizations failed to check whether a project mentioned in a media report actually received funding. This led them to significantly overstate the number and value of Chinese loans. After scouring sources ranging from Chinese government reports to African newspapers in French, Arabic, and Portuguese, and drawing on our network of official sources in Africa, we revealed our own rigorously cross-checked figures, which lead to a number of conclusions.
First, China is only somewhat politically motivated when loaning to African countries. Indeed, recipients must follow the One China policy: the three countries that recognize Taiwan — Burkina Faso, Sao Tome and Principe, and Swaziland — received no loans. But there is little indication that loans are targeted toward client states. Although both Sudan and Zimbabwe are potential client states, only Sudan shows up on the list of the top 10 African recipients of Chinese loans.
Second, we found scarce evidence that Chinese loans are mainly purposed to access natural resources. While the top recipient of Chinese loans was resource-rich Angola, the next recipient was resource-poor Ethiopia, where almost 90 percent of loans went to connective infrastructure in transportation, communication, and power.
Finally, Chinese loans are building the continent. From 2000 to 2014, almost 50 percent of Chinese loans financed the two biggest sectors: transportation (receiving $24.2 billion of loans) and energy (mainly electric power) with $17.6 billion. Roads and railways made up just under 80 percent of loans in transportation. Hydropower, power lines, and gas pipes made up slightly over 80 percent of loans in energy. Taking a closer look, we found that the biggest Chinese loan-financed infrastructure project was Phase I of Kenya’s Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway, funded by $3.6 billion of loans. The second largest project was the aforementioned Addis-Djibouti Railway, funded at $2.5 billion. In addition, there is an important distinction on the construction sites of these projects: our data shows that foremen and technicians are generally Chinese but the workers are African, contrary to popular belief.
A Chinese Approach to African Needs
In sub-Saharan Africa, where only 16 percent of roads are paved and 24 percent of people have access to electricity, a lack of connective infrastructure hinders economic prosperity. Appropriately, the Program for Infrastructure Development (PIDA) under the African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) prioritizes “regional and continental infrastructure” in its 30 year strategy.
The need for connective infrastructure in Africa is evident, even for the Chinese. Without roads to transport construction equipment or electricity to power manufacturing factories, Chinese contractors’ projects, which originally had big hopes, often don’t materialize. One reason our estimate of Chinese loans is lower than that of others is because we do not count rumoured projects that were later cancelled or never materialized due to obstacles (including infrastructural ones).
In fact, out of the 1,246 reports of Chinese loan financing to Africa that we analyzed in our database, a significant number did not materialize. In the transport sector, only 47 percent of 233 total projects (worth $49.8 billion) ever materialized. The rest turned out to be mistakes, rumors, cancellations, or “inactive,” meaning an agreement was signed more than five years ago, but the project is still not in implementation. Similarly, in the energy sector, only 61 percent of 221 total projects (worth $30 billion) materialized.
Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL)has reiterated its commitment in preserving the rich cultural heritage of the country by rendering financial and material support to traditional ceremonies.
ZRL Acting Director Human Resources, Mr. Reuben Lungu said the company has a proactive Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy which enables it to participate fully in the social and community activities.
“We are happy as Zambia Railways to be part of this colourful event and we shall continue rendering support to traditional ceremonies as a way of preserving our culture and history.”He said. Mr. Lungu said this after presenting gifts to Her Royal Highness Chieftainess Serenje at the Ichibwelamushi Traditional Ceremony of the Lala and Swaka people of Chitambo, Mkushi, Luano, Kapiri Mposhi and Serenje districts which took place on 8th October, 2016 at Chalata Arena.
Officiating at the ceremony, Central Province Minister Sydney Mushanga said government is committed to ensuring that the country’s rich traditions are preserved.Mr. Mushanga further said that traditions help in shaping society with good morals and the importance cannot be overemphasized.
The Minister toured the stands where traditional foods where displayed showing the locally prepared beer known as ‘katata’ and ‘katubi’ as well as locally grown crops.
The ceremony was characterized by entertainment from various traditional dance groups and there was a performance depicting the way of life in the village much to the satisfaction of the audience.
The Ichibwelamushi Traditional Ceremony is an annual event which is held in the Central Province of Zambia.