THE Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL) has announced the commencement of the operation of the long awaited Chipata –Mchinji railway line project in Chipata District of Eastern Province.
ZRL Nacala Director Vyonsi Manda announced the development at a media briefing held in his office in Chipata on Tuesday that the project which had stalled for over three decades was now operational.
Mr Manda said the project has commenced following the arrival of a locomotive and 51 wagons at the station.
He said a locomotive would be shutting with 51 wagons which would be laden with goods such as fertiliser and tantium ore to and from the deepest port in Sourthern Africa, Nacala in Mozambique.
He said the first route to Nacala Port would be released in the next two weeks adding that the speed would be 30 kilometres per hour.
Mr Manda said locomotive would be taking four days to reach the final destination from either side.
“The dream which was conceived over 30 years now has come to pass and we are thankful to the support being given to the Chipata-Mchinji railway line by the Government and cooperating partners,” he said.
Mr Manda said ZRL was working towards bringing199 wagons including five other locomotives into Chipata by the end of this year so as to create space for business in the transport sector.
He said the route was very secure and said each trip it would be guarded by the heavy security in the three countries of Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.
“From Mchinji to Nayuchi border, the wagons will be escorted by the heavy security from Malawi and from Nayuchi to Nacala port, the security personnel will be involved in escorting,” he said.
He said the customers have also made arrangements of warehouses where their cargo could be stored adding that the railways have also enough space to store cargo for the customers.
He appealed to the customers to give business to the railway sector after the operationalised of the project.
Mr Manda urged people along the railway line to keep away their children from the railway line to avoid loss of lives during the movements.
The idea of a Mchinji-Chipata railway was conceived in 1982 as part of a bilateral project between Zambia and Malawi and the Malawi section of the railroad was completed in 1984, though Zambia did not actively pursue the project until 2006.