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Alba Iulia
Monday, May 17, 2021

The long awaited Chipata –Mchinji railway line finally operational

Economy The long awaited Chipata –Mchinji railway line finally operational

A GOODS train shutting on Chipata -Mchinji railway to signify the operationalise of the long awaited project which was conceived during the UNIP regime.Here a goods lomocotive with wagons captured in Chipata1
A GOODS train shutting on Chipata -Mchinji railway to signify the operationalise of the long awaited project which was conceived during the UNIP regime.Here a goods lomocotive with wagons captured in Chipata

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.

A GOODS train shutting on Chipata -Mchinji railway to signify the operationalise of the long awaited project which was conceived during the UNIP regime.Here a goods lomocotive with wagons captured in Chipata 1
A GOODS train shutting on Chipata -Mchinji railway to signify the operationalise of the long awaited project which was conceived during the UNIP regime.Here a goods lomocotive with wagons captured in Chipata 1


    • its taken 30years to do how many KMs of railway line on the Zambian side? its just unbelievable

      Our attitude towards important things of our lives in Zambia is simply horrifying.

      no wonder we cant develop as fast as other countries

    • Which viva PF?? The zambian part of the railway line was completed during RBs tenure was only waitin for th malawian part n here goes the black man saying Viva pf,,funny right..

  1. So, it took 32 years to complete 24 km of railway track. This is truly an achievement that needs to be published in the record books!

    At this rate, it will take centuries to complete any other railway lines.

    • Of the 32 years, how many yrs did the Zambian govt actively work on this project? I am sure it took that long because there were other pressing issues which required govt’s attention at the time. In the 32 years you are talking about Mozambique was still engulfed in protracted civil and liberation wars, and the Zambian economy was stunted. It is now that the economic viability of this rail line has improved or changed. Maybe some of you people are just too young, or were not yet born then, to remember these things!

      Just be glad that progress has been made and now South African ports will have some real competition. I can’t wait for another rail route to the sea through Angola. This will bring further competition to the industry and bring down shipping/transportation costs.

    • Stop justifying this gross lack of forecast on the part of GRZ. Regardless of which party was in power. Its shameful. In Addis the Govt has almost finished more than 80km city railway within a year and a half. This includes underpasses, walk bridges and all……3 decades for 25km really???

    • @Nakabalika, I take it you are responding to my comment, right? If so please tell me you have NOT read the article because if you have, and you are simply arguing for the sake of it, then I have no time for you!

      Again, was the Zambian govt actively working on this project for the past 3 decades or you are simply conveniently ignoring the part in the article which clearly states that “The idea of a Mchinji-Chipata railway was conceived in 1982 …though Zambia did not actively pursue the project until 2006.” And “perusing” something does not necessarily mean you already have the funds to start the project—these things take time to source funding and then build.

      By the way, good for Addis. But I could careless what Ethiopia does for as long as my country is making progress!

    • @ Yambayamba. Its not just for the sake of arguing. The lack of political will and commitment to the project is most likely the cause of stagnation. If you were there as an adult in 1982, then you will recall that the govt then had messed up the economy like now due to poor choices and we were quequing for dambo soap, sugar and even vaseline. What excuse can a govt give for lack of priortising development and improving the lives of its people.

    • @Nakabalika, but aren’t the issues you have now raised covered under “other pressing issues which required govt’s attention at the time” in my earlier post? What can be any more PRESSING to the govt(s) than economic disarray?

      And if we have to be fair, the economic malaise of the 80s were NOT entire brought about by the poor economic management of the UNIP govt. Remember these were the years when copper prices simply sank into the abyss and sanctions were rampant. So yes, other factors beyond our borders and control contributed to the delay. Issues I already alluded to in my post. Yet you found it prudent to compare all this to what is happening in Addis. I mean, how trivial can you get?

      By the way I am a child of the 60s, so the experiences of the 80s are engraved in my DNA!

    • @ Yambayamba. Ok now I get it. you are from the 60s with contaminated DNA from a period of failed economics. Can that impy as to why you dont seem to understand why other African countries that also had challenges during the eighties have recovered and moving forward or its simply choosing to ignore the persistent selfish belly politics of Zambia.

    • @Nakabalika, what the he11 are you talking about? If you want to be taken seriously please stick to the topic!

      What does “ignore the persistent selfish belly politics of Zambia” got to do with what is been discussed here? And which president are you talking about and who is ignoring who here? Really, is the younger generation of Zambians this dull and hooked on politics so much that every topic has to degenerate into nonsensical discussion of political personalities?

      Trust me, it is the “period of failed economics” which saw any tangible economic boom Zambia can talk about. It is the “contaminated DNA” that built the schools, hospitals, roads, colleges and universities, airports, and other infrastructure that Zambia can point to with any semblance of pride. God have mercy!

    • By the way @Nakabalika, hasn’t Zambia also recovered from the economic difficulties of the 80s and moving forward has evidenced by the opening the Chipata–Mchinji railway line and other capital projects being undertaken at the moment? And what kind of people helped pull Zambia out of the economic difficulties; people with “uncontaminated DNA” of the 80s and 90s like yourself? NO! It is the same people with “contaminated DNA” who are still at it today, proposing and implementing projects for future generations. Yet all you can do with your “pristine 80s and 90s DNA” is to pall insults and call them names like “dinosaurs”.

      I really fear for the future this country with this culture of mindless politics being perpetrated by ‘children’ with “uncontaminated DNA”. It is scary!

    • @lye, if the economic viability of connecting the Chipata–Mchinji railway line to Lusaka warrants the costs involved, I am sure it will not take long at all. But what we shouldn’t expect our govt to be doing is engage in mindless building of projects which will NOT add real economic value to our country. If building a dry-port at Chipita makes more economic-sense at this time, I see no real reason why we should be rushing into extending the tracks to Lusaka.

      In fact, connecting this line to the TAZARA line in Mkushi or Serenje area makes more sense to me than Lusaka. Because Mkushi/Serenje is closer to Chipita and the Copper Belt than Lusaka is. Building capital projects which are likely to turn into “white elephants” makes no sense at all and we shouldn’t be encouraging them.

    • How does the whole country then benefit from this line?
      Link it to the copper belt via Serenje…yes..Chipata to Petauke-153km, Petauke to Serenje across the Luangwa River 150km in this way copper that is exported via the port of Durban in South Africa 3000km away can be diverted to Nicala 1000km away. with this Zambia will be connected by rail from Livingstone to Lusaka to Nakonde to dar and via serenje district to Chipata. Alternatively Just construct a road from Serenje to Petauke so that the trucks from the copper belt can transport the copper to the dry port in Chipata.

  2. Learn to use mass cheaap labour for such huge projects. The problem is that even a simple site foreman in Zambia wants a personal to holder vehicle for the duration of a project. Cost serving measures such as canteen meals instead of specified lunch allowance, pool vehicles and casual labourers to work when the cities are sleeping can go a long way.

    • Nkabalika I respect you so much, it is saving and not serving please. You save money and serve food to people!

  3. The rail tracks were completed during KK’s reign and the station , including houses for rail workers were done. The train station in Chipata was becoming a white elephant after KK lost power and Mr FTJ took over. During FTJ’s reign , the njanji was never mentioned but when Mwanawasa came, he revived it and had to re-do the rail tracks as they had been vandalized. RB came and completed the refurbishment , inaugurated it with locomotives from Malawi , and again the project stalled as Railways System of Zambia could not operationize it. Sata comes and pumps in abit of kwacha and now we have our first indigenously owned train in Chipata. This deserve praise to all governments involved , most especially the current government. We however, need to do much better in time management for…

    • @Mwalusaka Munambalala and @Nakabalika: Here is the explanation from grown ups who really know the real history of this project. Well, now you know. Thanks HardBull!!!

    • @ Yambayamba, Histroy aknowledged but you do see my point in lack of political will abi. Time spent on it is just too much for anyone project.

    • Come to think of it, this is exciting if you have never experienced fast paced development as it happens in places where the will is stronger such as Dubai. Ethiopia leading the way with Botswana trailing with such modern and captivating architectural designs. You just have to pull up your socks and stop the excuses.

  4. The project was conceived in 1982 and 2 years later Malawi had completed its part while Zambia was busy with politics of dictatorship,killing opposition leaders,changing of constitution suiting the sitting president,fighting for third term,inviting the chinese to bake ‘vitumbua’ in compounds, unending by-elections….and had to wait for more than 30
    years…laughable…30km/hr! Thanks for the achievement anway! Can someone think of connecting Angola-Namibia corridor from Mulobezi….oops maybe after 50yrs!

    • The building of the rail track was completed in 2010. The track was tested in April 2010. It was commissioned by Rupiah Banda and Mbingu Wa Mutharika. Why are you Zambians such big liars?

    • ME! And about 10 million other Zambians!

      Do you really need to ask? If this PF government gets to 2016 without being IMPEACHED it will be a miracle!

      With a clown in State house and a USELESS cabinet they will not last much longer.

  5. NEXT will be the line linking Solwezi to Angola, then the Kawambwa-Kasama line to Tanzania.

    Agreed. This project like others were started ages ago and went through several regimes. But nothing was ever done.

    Others did the talk only. The man has dote both the and the walk.
    Madala is indeed an action man! Jealousy out.
    No wonder his face book is hitting 100,000 in a matter of months.

  6. @Yambayamba in response to a seemingly UPND cadre, Nakabalika, concludes,


    Well thought and bias free articles from Yam Yam! One wishes we could have more of these postings on this site!

    Indeed what do Chiluba, Levy or RB got to do with the efforts of of this newer government which has just been in power for barely 2 years?
    Some the regimes were in power for decades..were they waiting for a savior?, a pragmatist.

    Well, Zambia has gotten that savor at long last.

  7. This is even a harder nut to swallow by some people here.

    Slow but steady wins the race ba UPND…lol

    2016 will be squicky bum time for HH and his kantemba UPND party.


    2016 we will do you another Donci Kubeba through the completed projects

    hehehehehe….. Yaba! hehehehe!

  8. All things happen at an appropriet time. The Hour has come for mchiji- Chipata rail line to be come operational. Where there is a will there is a way. This project indeed will add value to the Zambian economy. Never mind about 30klm/hr. Even when planes started flying could not be air bone for along time. All people involved starting from the board room up to those who wil commission deserve a part on their backs.

  9. 30 freaking years and all you have to show for it is one locomotive and 51 wagons, C’mon this is not a state fair train ride project is it?

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