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.
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.