Government is in the process of enacting the Statutory Instrument (SI) that will compel heavy and bulk cargo to be transported by rail.
Minister of Transport and Communications Brian Mushimba said the introduction of the SI will compel transporters and other players in the transportation chain to transport the bulk and heavy cargo by rail.
Speaking at the Consultative Meeting with Stakeholders in Lusaka, Mr Mushimba said the SI will help reduce road damage caused by heavy and bulk cargo and further reduce the maintenance costs.
“It is worth noting that out of 95 percent road market share, 85 percent share has been taken by foreign transporters and this implies that revenue generated goes to foreign countries while the responsibility to maintain roads remains to Zambia” he said
He said that the road sector accounts for 95 percent of the total market share, a development that has led to the collapse of the rail industry, thus the need to issue the SI which will also help grow the rail market share currently at only five percent.
Meanwhile Zambia Railways Limited Managing Director Christopher Musonda says the S.I, once implemented, will assist to harmonise the disparities in the use of various forms of transport in the sector.
He further said that the customers will enjoy reduced cost of transport by 30% as cargo will be guaranteed to ZRL, thereby making the local companies more competitive in the region.
He said that ZRL has the capacity to manage the traffic in flow after the implementation of the SI adding that should additional wagons be required, the company will easily access more wagons from neighbouring countries.
“We have existing agreements with our colleagues in neighbouring countries like South Africa and should we require more wagons, we will be able to hire and respond quickly to the increase in tonnage,” Mr Musonda said
He further stressed that the introduction of the SI is not about monopolising or baby- sitting the railway sector but optimising the use of rail transport.
Mr Musonda in his presentation told the meeting that ZRL has made progress in the rehabilitation programme of the rail- track and rolling stock.
TAZARA Managing Director Bruno Ching’andu in his presentation said the bi-national railway firm has positioned itself for the enactment of the SI that will see a levelled playing field in the transportation of heavy and bulk cargo.
Eng. Ching’andu highlighted on the progress that TAZARA has recorded in the last few months.
The consultative meetings with various stakeholders are an ongoing exercise before the SI is effected.