Some casual workers loading maize on a cargo wagons on Chipata-Mchinji Railway line.The train was exporting the commodity to both Malawi and MozambiqueGOVERNMENT will soon issue a statutory instrument (SI) that will compel transporters and other players involved in the transportation of heavy cargo to transport a minimum of 35 percent by rail.

Minister of Transport and Communication Brian Mushimba said once issued, the SI will reduce road damage caused by heavy cargo and will also help grow the rail market share currently at only five percent.

The road sector accounts for 95 percent of the total market share, a development that has led to the collapse of the rail industry, thus the need to issue the SI.

“Government intends to issue an SI that will compel transporters of cargo including minerals, fertiliser, cement, sugar and petroleum, and this will apply in areas in the country that are serviced by railway,” he said at a stakeholders meeting yesterday.

Mr Mushimba said that Government’s concentration on road construction and rehabilitation over the years has resulted in transporters moving their cargo by road and this has caused damage on the roads, yet the rail sector remains underutilised.

“It is worth noting that out of 95 percent road market share, 85 percent share has been taken by foreign transporters and this implies that revenue generated goes to foreign countries while the responsibility to maintain roads remains to Zambia.

“The development has further resulted in failure by railway operators to break even in terms of revenue generation and sustainability,” he said.

Mr Mushimba also admitted that rail transport had in the past become unreliable, inefficient and uncompetitive compelling Government to inject capital in Zambia Railways Limited and Tanzania Zambia Railways (TAZARA).

In 2012, Government released US$120 million from the Eurobond proceeds to rehabilitate the railway infrastructure and rolling stock.

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16 COMMENTS

    • About time. problem has been that government officials are themselves involved in Transport business. Most of them have trucks and have been reluctant in the past to see this sense. Should have been done ages ago, but of course they were benefiting. It is like telling the fish to empty the pond in which they live because the pond is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. It could not be done, first because the fish survival depends on the pond and secondly, the mosquito Egg, Larva and Pupa are food to the fish.

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  1. Right direction for the first time. If that is done, roads will last and we do away with toll gates please. We have to remove this double taxation on motorists of road licence and toll gates

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    • Good question Spear. I once used rail to ferry fuel from Ndola to Lusaka and the wagons arrived empty after 10 days despite the armed paramilitary guards on board. Sorry but the minister doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

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  2. Long overdue but doubt if it will work coz most of the trucks belong to the same influential people

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  3. First we need to make sure that the railways can handle the offloading of bulk cargo – how do you offload petroleum if there are no storage tanks at the railway depot or am I missing the point ? Will the railways insure the goods against theft / damage etc ?

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  4. This is a very good move to save our roads .The only problem is that the Zambian railway companies are very un reliable, inefficient and waste too much time before deliveries are made which is a huge cost to business. Delivery delays is another form of taxation which businesses are expected to pay if the SI was introduced. Already companies are paying too much taxes in Zambia .How many hours does one need to be on the train traveling from Nkana kitwe to Livingstone? hope not more than 24hours . In no way am I trying to insult or dis credit the minister but he needs to realize that time is more valuable than money, because you can bank money but you cant bank time. One minute lost will never be recovered . If the railways companies were serious , they would not need Government re…

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  5. That is what Professor Chirwa wanted to do but greed and lack of political will and no economic vision aborted the process. There is no railway line to talk about so the SI will be a useless piece of paper.

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  6. A long overdue arrangement but ineffectiveness of visionless leadership worries us whether they will effect this SI. They are too quick to strangle Zambians with high electricity tarrifs, road tolls, road taxes and insurance and mealie meal prices.

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  7. Comment:This is long overdue. It was to be done a long time ago. But because of the selfishness of some greedy ministers they been been blocking this idea. Tazara especially for now has a good number wagons and locomotives to handle any ammount of cargo. This is a good development. Mr. Minister; it should not just end up a mere talk..

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  8. Good move but not holistic enough! What has been the agreement with neighboring countries through and from which some of the heavy cargo comes? If a truck has to bring cargo to the border and then offload it to comply with the new regulations,has there been an analysis that it may increase the cost of trading?This is the likely scenario especially if railway companies in neighboring countries as inefficient as our Zambia Railways. If the major part of our road transport business has gone to foreigner is because successive governments have neglected working with the local haulage sector to support it so that our own transporters can make money and create jobs from the trade we are generating. Why can’t our transporters move 90% of our imports and exports?- government negligence!!

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  9. The minister is talking nonsense. Who tells him a 30 tonne of cemement is heavier than a 30 tonne of tomato?

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    • Iwe @Linyungandambo, this is the kind of retrogressive mentality and shallow analysis of issues that dogged us as Country. And you wonder why we don’t progress. Of course a ton is ton, no matter what commodity you are talking about. But are you really being serious by comparing PERISHABLES to NONPERISHABLES? How do you put tomatoes on a train from say South Africa to DRC through Zambia, or just within Zambia, and expect to have a good product at the end of such a long haul? Does this make sense to you?

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  10. Professionals need to run the rail, industry,for this to work, tazara for example is run by unqualified managers who have led to its downfall n the gvt has played a role in this by appointing MDs that have no clue on how to run a rail industry,,,theft has thrived as a result of works low salaries,,were all unionised ,professionals with Tertiary education earn less than k2000

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