Railway rehabilitation commences

Zambia Railways workers in action during the commencement of the truck rehabilitation programme in Livingstone
Zambia Railways workers in action during the commencement of the
truck rehabilitation programme in Livingstone

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.

Zambia Railways workers in action during the commencement of the truck rehabilitation programme in Livingstone
Zambia Railways workers in action during the commencement of the
truck rehabilitation programme in Livingstone

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.

Zambia Railways workers in action during the commencement of the truck rehabilitation programme in Livingstone
Zambia Railways workers in action during the commencement of the
truck rehabilitation programme in Livingstone



    • What kind of renovations are these, I can’t even see equipment apart from shelves and men puting back stones sure me Sata is this the reason we borrowed that kaloba EURONOND shame on u and PF. Just by the way what has happened to Chirwa’s trains ndelyumfwila mubwalwa ati mane yalivana, ndatuma bye elections

    • Passenger trains are a thing of the past in zambia, when other countries with good road network still plan for future railway networks.

    • I think Octupus you are a DULL. How do you think the first buildings ever built were built? Was it with machinery? How were the pyramids of Egypt were made? With machines?

      Don’t be a fool. Those are real men who do hands on job. No like you who always relies on a machine. Weakling!!

  1. Zambia did not need Bond money to pay for pipo performing regular maintainance on rail tracks. Sata could have used money meant for useless simulated elections. What a FULL we have for a president.

    • @Shi Mpundu, just because they are concrete rail sleepers replacing wooden ones does not remove from the fact that this could still have been done as part of standard maintainance schedules. If you didn’t know, even in the early 80’s there was a concrete sleeper casting plant in Kafue. So there is nothing new in this trend sir.

    • @Mfumu/OTHERS: You people need to get your facts straight before offering such shallow debates. MAINTAINANCE is done on something (equipment, system, etc.) which is functional but temporary put out of service (if need be) for repairs or tune-ups.

      In the case of ZR, the Railway Systems of Zambia (a private company) completely neglected the rail network. It was completely DEAD under these crooks. For many years, the rail lines in Zambia stayed relatively empty and abandoned, with the help of all the successive MMD govts, I might add. So you can’t call what is happening to ZR now as NORMAL or ROUTINE MAINTAINANCE. The use of the term REHABILITATION is very, very, very appropriate in this case. In fact, if you ask me, RESACITATION would even be more appropriate, because ZR was dead!

    • @Yambayamba, if you read my contribution, you will note that I was highlighting the fact that having concrete sleepers by itself does not constitute anything new as concrete sleeper casting plant has been there and replacing of timber sleepers had been part of ZR programme from early ’80s. However, there wasn’t that commitment to lay conrete sleepers on the whole line. No one disagrees that the line had fallen into disrepair and so there being a need to revamp the line. However, with so much to repair the $120m is a drop. Cheers for your sweeping statement!

  2. icalo cankongole kwati mashilu neshilu lyawamapo. ifi it is the same as marrying umwanakashi ushimona ulekongwesha akatu paka nao akongoleko kanshi salary yonse kupwila kubankongole elo plus nama rentals awe bwafya.

  3. Holy GOD!!! picks and coveralls for $120 million , I swear to God, we need tsunami to wipe out the current Zambian generation. HH is spot on. ZAMBIANS R TAKEN FOR A RIDE, WE R FOOLISH AS A NATION TO VOTE PF back in fi they say EUROBOND have been exhausted …

  4. The tools being seen here look like inferior equipment for the job. Using picks for a major rehabilitation! The price quotation for this job will be through the roof, a large bill for using picks. Cry Africa. After a heavy rainfall those pick worked infrastructure will be swept away and the Euro Bond gone forever. After one year or less we shall again start looking for more funds for this railway line, especially that we may not even operate profitably! Lets lift up standards, please. 49 years post independence. Picks for the railway line maintenance, nafuti, nafuti.

  5. This is unbelieveable. Rail stock travelling at 20Km an hour! At that rate the 1000km to Livingstone will take 3 days. Not even in the days of Cecil Rhodes did it take that long. Is this progress or retrogression?

    • @Mfumu: Ulichipuba iwe! I notice your comments are full of smoke than substance. Why don’t you educate yourself on this issue before coming onto a public forum and spewing nonsense? The trains are travelling at such slow speeds because of the state of the rail line at the moment—it is in terrible shape!

      And the biggest culprit in all this is Chiluba and his MMD capitalist zealots and free market sycophants who thought by privatizing every industry was the answer to Zambia’s economic woes. Now we are reaping the fruits of that kind of thought—ZR completely run into the ground and trains going at 20kmh! You can also take a look at what is happening to our mining industry, mineral wealth NOT benefiting our Nation and there is only very little we can do to right or stop it!

    • @Yambayamba, I dont engage in derogatory conversations. If you wanted to engage in Transport Engineering dicussion I am game. I have worked on a number of consultancies both in Zambia and in Europe, so I know what I am talking about and would gladly sit with you and discuss designs and execution of these works. In all my posts I dont use emotional and derogatory words. So if you want let us debate and start from bottom up on the problems afflicting ZR. Thanks

    • @Mfumu:

      Before you become to sanctimonious about your lack of derogatory words/language in your discussions, please read your initial post again, then tell me the implications of such a statement if NOT TO DEMEAN & INSULT Zambian Engineers and professionals currently trying very hard to rebuilt this industry. Are you telling me that you are the only one qualified enough to exactly know what the challenges are on the ground? I personally don’t think so!

      And as a professional rail engineer that you claim to be, I surely expected more constructive input from people like you than what I have seen so far. So, being derogatory?…yes your entire statement is quite derogatory…hence the response you are getting.

      Sorry if you are hurt, but I can not apologize for it!

    • @Yambayamba, I am not asking for an apology from you and dont put words in my mouth. I did not claim I am the only professional on this discussion forum and by the way I did my basic engineering in Zambia and visited sites on the railway in question. One didn’t have to spell it that for a locomotive to travel at that speed, the infrastructure is decrepit. The simple computation I included was to show how much work needs to be done to bring the system to acceptable usability for the whole venture to be viable. No one will deny the fact that the we have retrogressed on the front. Thats a fact. If you know something about that system, there was a period when Hachipuka was MD, he tried his best to recapitalise the system but too much political interference. All I am asking is a civil debate.

    • I dont believe this is the forum to raise the issue of prestressed concrete sleepers against timber sleepers, ballast issues nor modern signalling and rail points. There is a place and time for that, dont you think, Sir? Thanks

  6. it is Shocking> The Mrs Charity Ngoma should actually quarrel. The was just for sharing. Who company employing those weak workers. After One hour kashasu kufuma

  7. One thing liked about the Chriwa plan was that it was going to empower ZRL to undertake much of the rail works and was going to empower local companies, as $120 million that sounds like a drop in the ocean for rehabilitating a rail track from Ndola to Livingstone……….this looks like a mere patch up job.

  8. Seriously what are those guys doing with those picks and shovels? What sort of maintenance is this? It does not seem that it requires so many of them nor does it seem capital intensive to have had to wait for the euro bond funding. With speeds of 20km/h even if improved to 80km/h there is no way it will attract any decent freight business, worse still passenger business as all travel and logistic is time sensitive and road transport provides the alternative and value for money

    • Its a no brainer using spades like that there is a machine that does the job much more effectively and efficiently but since we are in Zambia…they want to create employment and sing about it at the expense of quality.

    • @Jay Jay/blabla: I agree with you, but you have to ask yourselves a simple question; how much does such equipment cost and does the ZR or the GOVT have the funds to acquire such expensive equipment? Mind you, this is a company (ZR) which did NOT make any money (was DEAD) for a long time—probably right from the start of the MMD era!

      Yes, there is equipment that can accomplish such rehabilitation works more efficiently both in terms of cost & labor. But at least it is better to start with what you have instead of waiting until you acquire some expensive equipment which the company or Govt can not currently afford. By the way, there are plenty of examples of major capital projects done in the past, which are a marvel to behold today, where “pick and shovel” was central.

    • in rehabilitation we use things like shovels picks slewing bars cant-boards and even if we were to have bigger equipment such as platzer machines and welding machines we still cant run away from picks and shovels those big machines are just for alignment of the rails.we will start with basic tools whl we wait for big machines wic ar still on the ship coming.

  9. Good start but how on earth can people us shovel and pick in this day and age. The young guys should be supplied with hats to protect them from the harsh Zambian sun. No wonder many people look so dark and old in Zambia these days.

  10. What the hell are these guys doing. We behave as if we are still in the stone age. Honestly is this the best we can do? Picks and shovels! my word. Atanga has lost his mind. Fellow citizens’ Are we just going to sit and watch the Euro-bond money go to waste like this. Havens knows how the that money will affect our children in the near future.

  11. What the hell are these guys doing. We behave as if we are still in the stone age. Honestly is this the best we can do? Picks and shovels! my word. Atanga has lost his mind. Fellow citizens’ Are we just going to sit and watch the Euro-bond money go to waste like this. Havens knows how the that money will affect our children in the near future. God help our nation

  12. I think we can do better than this. My understanding was that the old rail and sleepers were were going to be uprooted and replaced with new ones. I still see the old timber sleepers in place. Secondly, by utilizing labor intesive means to do the job, we are prolonging job completion and also subjecting the line to an inconsistent standard of excellence. We have educated engineers who are supposed to look into this matter. Where are they and do they care if they are there?

  13. Let’s please not be so negative, this is this only government since UNIP that has actually thought of rehabilitating the railway system. Let us show positive criticism where need be. It is a good effort on the side of the PF government, the only concern I have is no mention has been made of some of the other railways like Chingola-Kitwe and Luanshya-Ndola just to mention a few, where sleepers were sadly removed and sold by people, some of these culprits are now even MPs and business men. Please just as we persecute people involved in corrupt practices we should also persecute people that stole the railway lines just to make themselves rich at the expense of the whole nation.

    • @developer how is blind criticism right, provide constructive criiticism…what is wrong with rehabiltating the railway lines? This government has really made the effort, where you think they are erring provide advice or suggest what you think should be done and not just condemning because you think you are the only person who has the insight on how to develop the country- be fair!

  14. I’m speechless.men with picks and shovels in 2013? I saw a documentary of a railway line being built in the 1800s like this. It will take 50yrs with picks and shovels to lay railway tracks all across Zambia. There goes the Euro bond and we won’t have anything to show for it.Please bring back Prof Chirwa and stop this wastage of money.


    • Mixing old sleepers and new ones thereby extending for 6 months. And we should be using high-tech equipment so we have a railway that is faster than the bus. Looks like 1905 when Bwanas did the work!

  16. People please lets give credit were its due for the passed 49 years of independence no govermnemt as thought about this,PF in its two years in power have taking over the the zambian company which was corruptly sold by the previous government.personaly l salute you guys on the step taken……God bless you

  17. Chirwa proposed a modern plan to all of you chaps barking here….what was your damn reaction? “he is dreaming! this is not achievable! bla blah!!”…..now you have been treated to what you are used to from KK to RB times, there you are again with your never ending bitter critique….come on UPND chaps…muzafa nachikonko pamukosi!!! lekeni SATA ateke!!

  18. I pray that the PF govt does not repeat the MMD stunts in Chipata where a train from Malawi was not followed by a real one and Chawama remains a health centre after being commissioned as a hospital by RB. MMD need more time before they ask us to vote for them again.

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