Railway Systems of Zambia defends its concession


RAILWAY Systems of Zambia (RSZ) has defended its operations of the railway concession saying business potential is there and can be fruitful if policy issues are addressed by Government.

Company chief executive officer Benjamin Even says shareholders are willing to take the long-term view.

Mr Even said lack of policies by Government, security expenses and the company’s commitment to maintaining the uneconomical passenger service have added to the costs of operations, all of which are financed by the company.

He said RSZ has up to about now invested more than US$53 million to enhance infrastructure development and operations.

During a courtesy call on Zambia Daily Mail managing director Isaac Chipampe in Lusaka yesterday, Mr Even said it is unfair for the public to complain that the concession of the company has been a failure because shareholders have invested.

He said the money was pumped into infrastructure, rolling stock, communication and equipment.

“In the privatisation process, many stakeholders get disappointed by loss of jobs, suppliers and clients.

The shareholders could not foresee all operational factors, many of which were largely outside their control such as the high levels of theft and vandalism, erratic changes in the market structure and neighbouring railways, and continued hostility from some previous stakeholders,” he said.

He cited vandalism, saying some sections of the rail cannot allow trains a speed of more than 40 kilometres per hour.
Mr Even said the passenger train service is a huge loss for the company, adding that the revenue generated can barely cover fuel costs.

He said the passenger train concession ended in December 2010.

“Despite these challenges, the company continues to sustain itself and all its liabilities towards pension funds, suppliers, employees and tax authorities without any cost to the tax payer. Unfortunately, this is a rare achievement in the railway industry of the region,” he said.

Mr Even said the shareholders have continued to keep the concession despite the challenges, adding that enormous investments have been pumped into the project.

He said railway transport is more expensive than road transport because as a private entity, the RSZ has had additional costs like securing and maintaining 1,000 kilometres of rail and subsidising passenger train operations.

“We are subsidising our competitors who have to use the road. We have not received fuel levy from Government and our state of rail is not good. It requires a lot of investment,” he said.

He said while security for infrastructure and cargo was provided by Government for free, RSZ has continued to pay costs of security on neighbouring railway lines, to secure cargo coming from Zambia.

Mr Even said Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL) as the former operator of railways in Zambia is responsible to monitor the concessions and manage the assets.

He said in the last eight years, the company has been managing the railway, it has paid its 1,000 workers their salaries in time and participated in corporate social responsibility activities.

[Zambia Daily Mail]


  1. Nothing Tnagible from this sector….Atleast before these guys came i would use the train to and from School…….I can’t see any tangible results so far…The question i might ask is wheter the decession by the Gvt to lease has any economical or social benefits?

  2. whats your fear RSZ,the railway lines are over grown with grass and shrubs you know what means………no train is passing.

  3. This is real tough business but can be profitable especially if the government forbid all road destroying bulk cargo to be on rail and not roads. Just wonder why copper and timber should be on road.

  4. Awe, zambia railways must be repossesed and it has to be now,these ****ers are only concetrating on hauling copper between kitwe and kapiri down south the railways does not exist.all track workers who where there in kaunda`s time are no longer there.

    goverment must reposses court the chinese who knows what a railway line means in as a reliable mode of transport in business and then ban any load exceeding 30 ton to be moved on the roads including coal.KK implemented it and it worked

  5. No proper investment in the rail means there are derailments on a daily basis, and their trains cannot run at more than 40 km per hour. They have failed.

  6. please RSZ do some slushing on your rail tracks especially the ones in lusaka’s town, there is serious tall grass which is a breeding ground for thieves and rapists…….

  7. these guys are defending themselves knowing they are making gud profits.Thing have gone from bad to worse. when I remember those old days……..my heart breads to see how RSZ is today.

  8. this thing should just be scrapped to the ground and a totally brand new GRZ owned railway opened. This is a very lucrative business and GRZ and the Zambian people are losing out big time

  9. The railway system is just pathetic. Government should have moved in a long time ago to look at ways to make the railways profitable and serve the nation by providing alternative transport means to the roads that continue to take a beating (at geat cost to the tax payer) from carrying goods that could have best transported by rail.

  10. What more evidence do we need to have in order to understand that our railway system was trashed long ago by the MMD by their concession deal? No decent Zambian who dearly wants a better country can accept the nonsense that these thugs running our railway system are saying. I guess that this problem will not be tackled by the PF because they do not seem to have well educated members in its cabinet. All they know is how how to speak Bemba! making Zambia a better country would require more educated cabinet minisers and a civil service that is free from a corrupt history currently in office.

  11. Privatization/concession was expected to improve the rail infrastructure and operations, at least that is what we were made to believe. US$ 53 Million investment over a period of 8 year does not seem to be significant. One would have thought that hundreds of millions should have been invested. I may not be an expert in this field, but surely this amount is too little to be used for anything significant other than on patch up work (an equivalent of pot hole mending when it comes to roads).

    • Bwana Rocket no need to use the word ‘seem’. $53 million over a period of eight year is ridiculous! It is NO investment at all. I don’t know why we are wasting time with these goons.

  12. I had friends who used to work for Zambia Railway, I do not recall any of them having their salaries delayed. Zambia Railways had an even bigger work force and was also operating the passenger train. Zambia Railways was also suffering fuel levy.
    In fact those who were in operations at the time were even saying that the company had started to turn around. There was increase flow of traffic on the lines. This is not the case anymore.

  13. Reposses ZR and modernize it. Turn it into electric train. It is unbelievable that with power for Africa in Zambia we still run diesel-powered locomotives. Ubututu bufwile bupwe!

  14. I cant believe Mr Benjamin Even can today start telling all the rubbish stuff regarding Zambia Railways. In Zambia you only have Zambia Railways and TAZARA. Both these companies have let Zambians down greatly. The railways were constructed a long time ago but managements of these railways system have done little to improve at all. Infact what they have done is making these railway worse off than they found them. They are there not to improve but to make things worse. Our roads have been destroyed because of the same poor railway systems. Benjamine must be fired or the consession be sold to more credible people.  Thatb they can even speak proudly today is just utter foolishness. Today we should have electrified our railway systems if we had people who just steal any money availed.

  15. US53 million in infrastructure and rolling stocks is peanuts. My pocket money for which you can do 20 kilometres of the track if you are lucky. He should be ashamed to even mention it. There is a lot of capital flight from this company which should be checked by the regulators or simply just cancel this concession. It is not adding value to the lives of Zambians. Even as late as 1996 it was joyous to ride on a train. Not any more!!!! I don`t know how these crooks are managing to sweet talk every govt in power ………. Phew!!!!

  16. It hurts Zambia railways built time in memorial has remained worse off than they were constructed due to poor maintainance caused by poor managements. These are manager who are just there to give all sorts of reasons for their shoddy performance. Railways deteriorate instead of improving, so many years after independence. Roads will never be any good for long even with massive road repairs just because Zambia railways has failed lamentably. Nationalize these institution may be we may see sense. Travel by train and you will know what I am talking about. Its like crazy heads are running these railway lines. Its like they dont think at all! How else can you describe such managers who have failed us so much? I pains, it hurts when you see these guys lavishly spending money on & for themselves!

  17. These guys where they come from they have good roads and railway systems. But when they come to Zambia they are utterly interested in syphoning money out of the Railway system they pretend they operate ‘efficiently’. Its a fallacy and lunacy to run down Zambian Railway systems the way these shrilled minds have done. The take away more than they put in. Where is Sata? Fix these brains, they are there to destroy. They have so far destroyed Zambia Railway, its is now far worse than they found it. It criminal. They are corrupt heads, they don’t mean well for Zambia. We surely could be better off if we give then a kick and get other competitors. they came from Europe were things are perfect but the don’t want to make Zambia Railways as good as what they left in their home countries. 

  18. The whole idea of getting rid of Zambia Railways was a brain dead one and did not deserve a place on anybody’s table other than in a trash can. We need railways as a viable alternative to road transport. Evryone who has done transport studies will tell you that rail is more efficient than road. And yet these useless people are RSZ are just out to hold back our development. Had we been in a Western environment, such managers would have been dismissed within 2 weeks on the job. They have rundown Zambia railways in order to perpetuate our dependence on the world bank and the IMF. Remember that most of these people have never wanted to see a black man independent. This is why they want us to depend on donors as if we have no natural resources of our own with which to develop Zambia.

  19. Turn around the company, dull Zambian CEOs are very good with complaining. Show us what you can do that nonsense talk. If you cannot run a group, go?? Abuse of power is the biggest problem we have in Zambia.

  20. GRZ is running TAZARA………And how is TAZARA doing? Stop the nonsense you lying Zambians. This Railway you are talking about was constructed by the colonialists. What you need to do is to relay the whole track. Dont expect the RSZ to do it for you! They are just renting the damn thing so dont expect them to make huge capital investments when they are not the owners of the damned thing. Where is this nostalgia for a GRZ railway coming from? It was useless ! So stop hallucinating!

  21. These *****s are misstreating the poor zambians, how do they give 15percent salary increment when salaries are at 1.5million maximum? This means the foremen will getting 1.650 million and engineers 2.7million.. So what investment are they talking about.. Ps the union president was chassed by the workers this morning at kabwe workshops.. Ba stupid imwe!!

  22. The point is the railway line was concessioned so that operations and performs should improve. This has not happened. Instead things have gone from bad to worse. Clearly RSZ has failed. It reminds me of Johnson & Johnson, Dunlop & Colgate Pamolive, all these companies became trading companies after privatisation instead of manufacturing.

  23. Cancel RSZ concession ASAP.Concession was a grave mistake and done witha wrong crowd. If you wat for 20 years to elapse there will be nothing left to salvage. We need to go back to moving heavy goods by railway and bring down the cost of business.. Some agreement are not just imperfect but also grosssly abused. RSZ concession is one such example

  24. Kavindele should explain how he came up with these guys for concession. Levy was about to cancel this concession, what are we waiting for? $54 million in 10 years is nothing in terms of capital expenditure of this magnitude. Another 10 years, they will be nothing to point at in terms rail infrastructure. He is talking about rolling stock, where are they? We need to take back our asset and recapitalise it, RSZ has failed.

  25. Cancel this thing please. We are losing out. Is Zambia surely not capable of starting a totally brand new railways and airline. We are in the 21st century but still painfully trying to run on welensiky’s creations. Rather spend more on permanent solution than less on temporally and costly solutions

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