Zambia Railways has commenced with the rehabilitation of its rail network in the country with the funds it was given from the Euro Bond that the Zambian government acquired early this year.
Early this year government gave Zambia Railways USD 120 million from the Euro Sovereign Bond for recapitalization purposes of which 80 percent will be spent on track infrastructure and the remainder is earmarked to be utilized on locomotive and wagon repairs and procurement of re-railing equipment.
At the function to signal the commencement of the rail track rehabilitation project in Kapiri Mposhi today, Transport and Communications Permanent Secretary, Charity Ngoma said government is committed to improving the railway system in Zambia to reduce road maintenance costs as a result of heavy cargo hauling on the roads.
Mrs Ngoma noted that Zambia Railways has the potential to significantly contribute to lowering the cost of doing business by providing an alternative transport system of cargo in the country.
Mrs Ngoma has also challenged management of Zambia Railways to ensure that the company became self reliant.
“Zambia Railways should become self reliant and I’m glad to note that this company is able to meet its operational costs and does not every month beg for funding from my office,” Mrs Ngoma said.
She urged the company to grow both its freight and passenger business assuring them that government will do all it can to provide capital to the rail company.
And Zambia Railways Northern Region Rolling Stock Manager, Webster Ntambo said the train speed will improve from the current 20 Km per hour to 80 Km per hour once the rehabilitation of the rail track is completed.
The project will cover rehabilitation of the rail track from Livingstone to Ndola.
Mr Ntambo said the rehabilitation works will also result in the reduction in the wear and tear on rolling stock, greatly reduce associated costs of maintenance and increase the market share with a consequent reduction in the freight burden on the road network currently being witnessed.
He commended government for recapitalizing the Zambia Railways and assured that the company will insist on high quality workmanship from the contractor in order to get expected works and value for money.
“The Zambian government should be commended for the efforts it has made to recapitalize Zambia Railways from its own resources… as management we shall make sure that this gesture is appreciated by spending these resources perfectly on intended projects,” Mr Ntambo said.
Meanwhile, the Railways Workers Union of Zambia has hailed the PF government’s revocation of the Concession Agreement and subsequent repossession of the company from Railway Systems of Zambia.
Union Trustee, John Nkole noted that the decision has stabilize the company adding that barely one year after the move the company has seen serious investment and has given employment to many youths who previously had no hope of finding employment.
The rail rehabilitation project will provide over 1,000 jobs within its course of implementation.