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)
LAFARGE Zambia and Zambia Railways Limited have signed a transport agreement which will focus on an enhanced delivery of production inputs used in cement manufacture as well as deliver clinker and cement products within Zambia and the regional market.
The agreement brings about a partnership that will complement other modes of transport, relieve some pressure off the roads as a result of heavy load low speed, whilst promoting sustainability throughout the entire value chain.
Speaking at the signing ceremony held on Friday afternoon at Lafarge Zambia Head Office (HO), Chilanga, Lafarge Zambia Chief Financial Officer Mrs. Chrissie Moloseni said the agreement would create synergies that would benefit both Lafarge Zambia and Zambia Railways for the long term. Mrs. Moloseni reiterated Lafarge Zambia’s commitment to upholding health and safety and hence the partnership with ZRL to help reduce risks on the roads.
“Today we continue to have a high fleet of trucks on our roads responsible for both inbound and outbound logistics, which is in excess of 500 trucks. The pressure exerted on the roads continues to be high as a result of this activity. Therefore, this partnership will relieve some pressure off our roads as it complements other modes of transportation currently in use today and we also anticipate to reduce the safety risk on the road’, She said.
She further said the agreement would help reduce the cost of road maintenance and promote sustainable development.
“This will not only be a welcome development from a maintenance standpoint as Government continues to promote construction of road infrastructure but will also contribute to sustainable development. Carbon emission is relatively lower for every tonne of product dispatched via rail when compared with other modes of transportation that are in use today”, she said.
Speaking at the same ceremony, the Zambia Railways Limited Chief Executive Officer, Mr Christopher Musonda said Zambia Railways was happy to sign the agreement with Lafarge Zambia to transport various commodities such as coal, gypsum, clinker and cement within Zambia and to the neighbouring countries such as Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi and Tanzania. He reiterated that the company’s renewed focus on efficiency and highlighted that Zambia Railways has invested in new equipment and opened offices in DRC and other countries to help with the clearing process at the border areas. He said that ZRL was determined to help promote Zambia to become a commercial hub in the region and the company was positioning itself to help industries to benefit from this ambition.
Mr Musonda committed that ZRL would continue to deliver quality services to customers by adding value to the transport sector in Zambia and beyond.
“In an effort to meet the ever changing customer’s needs, ZRL has come up with a transport model aimed at improving efficiency. The wagon model namely Wagon Monitoring and Control System (WAMCO) is designed in a way that will enable customers to have dedicated wagons for all movements thereby improving efficiency levels” he said.
The agreement will run for three years and is subject to renewal.
The performance of Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL) has continued to improve from 2012 when the Government took over the management of the Company from the concessionaire Railway Systems of Zambia (RSZ).
The performance from 2003 to 2012 during the concessioning period declined to 594,050 tons per year and started increasing after the takeover by ZRL to 959,956 tons in 2014
The USD120 million Eurobond that the government injected into ZRL has been utilized to purchase through open tendering, materials, spares, passenger coaches and equipment for Infrastructure and rolling stock rehabilitation.
The aim of the track rehabilitation is to increase the track capacity and train speeds to an average of 70km/h for freight trains and 80km/h for passenger trains.
During the rehabilitation exercise a total of 291,000 concrete sleepers have been installed to replace expired wooden and steel sleepers.
The aim of the rolling stock rehabilitation is to provide adequate and reliable rolling stock and locomotives for the haulage of more traffic volumes and movement of more passengers.
ZRL has a total fleet of 37 and 2,094 locomotives and wagons respectively.
Out of the 18 locomotives earmarked for rehabilitation and periodical overhaul, 7 locomotives have been overhauled.
So far the company has rehabilitated 91 wagons and refurbished 13 passenger coaches.
The company has commenced the re-manufacturing of ten (10) locomotives at Kabwe workshops; so far, Four (4) U20C Locomotive frames have been prepared.
ZRL has plans to construct new railway linkages to the new mineral production centers on the Copperbelt Province so as to link all the mines which are Zambia’s main economic hub.
In line with Government policy direction of resuscitating inter- mine train operations on full scale following the nullification of the concession , works by ZRL with regards to inter-mine train operations are progressing very well;
Zambia Railways Limited has linked KCM’s Konkola, KCM’s Nchanga mines and Manica siding to the main railway line.
Zambia Railways Limited(ZRL), National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) and CFM of Mozambique have embarked on a joint marketing programme in a bid to promote the Beira corridor of Mozambique through interactions with various customers in Zambia.
The delegation from both Zimbabwe and Mozambique combined with Zambia Railways are scheduled to meet customers and hold promotion talks to market the Beira corridor.
The Beira corridor is one of the corridors that Zambia Railways utilizes for the movement of commodities because of its operational efficiencies. Today Beira has handled a lot of fertilizers for Zambia and the aim is to ensure most of these come by rail.
Zambia Railways Limited Chief Executive Officer Christopher Musonda said ZRL boasts of a good working relationship that it enjoys with other contiguous railways in the southern region, and this can be evidenced by the joint marketing programmes.
He said the company will endeavour to support any region efforts aimed at marketing corridors linked to Zambia.
Zambia Railways does not work in isolation but it incorporates other key players in the safe movement of goods for customers to various corridor destinations.
National Railways of Zimbabwe Director Marketing Elector Mafunga observed that the rail transport business has changed over the years due to a number of factors obtaining on the market.
And this therefore means that the approach to wooing customers must change too, if the railways have to survive and increase the share on the market. High levels of flexibility in the rates for movement of cargo should be adopted by railways.
Mrs. Mafunga further urged Zambia Railways to count on the National Railways of Zimbabwe for any business developments.
The CFM of Mozambique Director Commercial Paulo Tarmamade has urged customers in Zambia to move their bulk cargo by rail on the Beira route.
Mr Tarmamade noted that the railways are a best option in the heavy cargo movement because of its many advantages over road haulers.
Zambia Railways has launched the new Zambezi Ordinary Passenger Train that will be traversing between Kitwe and Livingstone twice weekly.
Speaking during the Flagging off ceremony of the Zambezi train, Copperbelt Minister Mwenya Musenge said it is gratifying to note that the train with its state- of- the- art facilities still remains the cheapest and,therefore,most affordable to the common person.
“This is an indication of a caring Government and as you may wish to know, in monetary terms, Passenger Services do not generate profit, therefore, our Government will continue to invest into it because of its determination and commitment to improving the Social Welfare of our people” Mr. Musenge said.
The minister who also inspected the train urged all the travelling publics, not to vandalise the new passenger coaches but to take care of the infrastructure so as to maintain quality of the service, which should remain as an inheritance from generation to generation.
Meanwhile Zambia Railways Board Chairman, Mr. Davies Chama in his speech read by one of the Board members Professor Steven Simukanga said Zambia Railways has continued to record progress from the time government took over the company and subsequent commencement of the rehabilitation programme.
Professor Simukanga said the new coaches for the Zambezi train have been procured with the proceeds from the US$120million Eurobond, an indication that the money injected into the railway firm was utilized appropriately.
The Zambezi Train has facilities such as sleeper compartments, business, standard and economy classes. It also has television sets, music system, bathroom showers, snack coach and air-conditioned coaches.