Government has signed and issued a Statutory Instrument(SI) No. 7 of 2018 that makes it mandatory for all transporters of heavy and bulk cargo to transport a minimum of 30 percent by rail transport.
During the historic signing of the SI on 26th January, 2018,Transport and Communications Minister, Brian Mushimba said the SI will among other benefits preserve the road infrastructure.
Eng. Mushimba said the SI will further optimise the transport sector and promote the sustainability of the rail sub sector.
“Currently, the rail sub sector has a minute market share of 5% to 8% compared to road with 92% to 95% out of which only 2% is handled by Zambian transporters. The huge discrepancy in the performance has impacted negatively on the rail sub sector leading to decrease in revenue generated resulting in deferred maintenance of the permanent way and rolling stock as well as reduced rail transportation efficiency.” said Eng. Mushimba.
The Transport Minister said Government through his ministry will set up a Monitoring and Evaluation Team to monitor compliance.
Eng. Mushimba added that the team will work closely with other stakeholders such as the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA), Zambia Weights and Measures Agency, Central Chamber of Mines and Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry to ensure that any transporter acting in defiance to the SI is brought to book.
Speaking at the same event, Zambia Railways Limited Board Chairperson, Lubinda Linyama said the SI will help in transforming Zambia Railways into a viable and competitive railway operator.
And Zambia Railways Chief Executive Officer, Christopher Musonda said the SI will help decongest the roads while increasing tonnage for the company.
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 has reaffirmed its commitment in training its human resource for improved operations of the institution.
Speaking during the graduation of twenty seven (27) trainee artisans, Zambia Railways Limited Director Human Resources Davies Mukonkela said for the railway firm to thrive, there is need for a skilled workforce.
The trainee artisans underwent training in Human Resource, Safety and Environment, Motive Power, Carriage and Wagon, Finance and general operations of Zambia Railways.
Mr Mukonkela said the company will continue investing in the training of its workforce for a better Zambia Railways.
He urged the graduates to apply the knowledge that they acquired from the training and therefore add value to the institution.
The trainee artisans specialized in different trades were later handed with certificates at a colourful graduation ceremony held at Tuskers Hotel in Kabwe.
Some of the artisans are electricians,heavy duty operators,plumbers,etc.
Zambia Railways Head Training Harry Siame said the training programme for any employee is an ongoing undertaking and when recruiting.
Mr Siame further added that it is important that the trainees are inducted so that they understand the general operations of the company.