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.
Every year, people are killed and injured because they are trespassing, or vandalising the railway facilities.
Zambia Railways Limited has continued to appeal to the general public to desist from activities such as trespassing, vandalism and encroachment
Only certain parts of the railway premises are open to the members of the public. Of course, you can go on the stations, platforms and safe crossing places.
But you will be trespassing if you go on to the railway tracks, or any other area without authorisation by railway staff.
Anyone trespassing on the railway facilities puts his or her life at risk for any eventuality in the railway premise especially those that short cut across the railway track.
Vandalism of Railway Infrastructure and assets has continued to be a setback in improving the Zambia Railways’ infrastructure.
These retrogressive acts are not only endangering the lives of the travelling public on the railway line but also contributing to derailments, forcing the company to incur unplanned costs .
In some communities along the line of rail most residents have been dumping garbage on the railway line posing a risk to the passengers and the goods.
In other cases, some unscrupulous people have been caught removing concrete sleepers, ballast stones and rail components from the track which in some way causes derailments.
It is a criminal offence for any person found removing concrete sleepers, ballast stones and other railway components from the railway line or being in possession of the stated items because anyone found wanting will face the law.
Mmebers of the public are therefore urged to desist from such acts and safeguard the railway infrastructure.
It is against this background that ZRL Police command has been the main provider of Security and has attached great importance to safeguarding the passengers and the customer goods.
In fighting Vandalism and theft,the ZRL police Unit has a good working relationship with other security agencies such as the Zambia State Police.
The good cooperation with the State Police has resulted into joint anti vandalism and train escorts of high valued commodities such as Copper, fuel, Sugar, Fertilisers etc.
Zambia Railways Police Unit has investigated complex criminal cases of vandalism and theft which has led to conviction of offenders.Therefore there is need for communities especially those along the line of rail to protect the railway infrastructure by desisting from vandalism and theft and reporting any cases to ZRL Police or any police station.
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.
Government has reiterated its commitment in ensuring that Zambia Railways becomes a more viable business enterprise.
Transport and Communications Minister Kapembwa Simbao visited Zambia Railways for a familiarization tour of the Railway facilities in the company of his Deputy Minister James Kapyanga.
Mr. Simbao an Engineer by profession said Zambia Railways has potential to get back to its glory days because it is a profitable entity which deals with carriage of heavy goods and passengers.
“Government wants to ensure that the company comes back to the way it used to be, as railway companies are profitable if given utmost attention” he said.
The Minister noted that many customers are willing to move their cargo by rail as it is one of the safest, reliable and efficient mode of transport.
Mr. Simbao was elated by the skilled workforce at Kabwe Main Workshops after his tour , and urged Management to advertise the various products been made from the workshops.
Mr. Simbao addressed Zambia Railways employees based in Kabwe, further elaborating on the transfer of shares of the railway firm to the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) which he described as a step in the right direction.
He urged the employees to show a different characteristic in improving the operations of the organization, by been innovative, disciplined and hardworking.