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.