From (right) Zambia Railways Director Rolling Stock Webster Mtambo, Transport and Communications Minister Kapembwa Simbao and his deputy James Kapyanga during the tour of Zambia Railways workshop in Kabwe
FILE: From (right) Zambia Railways Director Rolling Stock Webster Mtambo, Transport and Communications Minister Kapembwa Simbao and his deputy James Kapyanga during the tour of Zambia Railways workshop in Kabwe

THE Parliamentary Committee on Communications, Transport, Works and Supply has called for recapitalization of the Zambia Railways Limited to cushion the pressure on the country’s road infrastructure.

Committee chairperson Douglas Siakalima said although there were a number of competing needs in the country, the railway company needed adequate injection of capital to make it viable and operate effectively.

He was speaking in an interview soon after the six member committee inspected the operations at the Zambia Railways in Kabwe on Thursday to appreciate the progress made by the firm.

Mr Syakalima who is also Chirundu Member of Parliament noted that the company was doing a tremendous work by rehabilitating some of the old locomotives but could do even better if the company was given more money.

“I know that there are competing needs in the country, but I think it is important to recapitalize huge investment like this one; we should not just let it go like this,” he said.

“We also think that if Zambia Railways was helped in terms of recapitalization, we will know that we will offload the pressure on our roads so that many of the goods are transported using railway which will make the lifespan of our roads longer.

Mr Syakalima noted that effective railway transport in Zambia could also help to reduce the current high road traffic accidents in the country as well as loss of goods on transit.

Msanzala Member of Parliament Peter Daka who is one of the committee members said it was a myth to suggest that US $120 million Eurobond which was given to the railway company had been misused.

Mr Daka who is also former Transport Minister and communications Minister said there had been a lot of work including the reconditioning of engines for the trains that should be appreciated and supported by every Zambian.

“I have seen what is going on where the generators and the engines are being put together and there is serious work that is going on and if Zambia Railways is given more money, it can do better than the expectations that are outside,” he said.

He said the management at the company had put in so much to resuscitate the company and parliamentarians would support every effort that was being made.

Earlier, company chief executive officer Christopher Musonda told the parliamentarians that the company had moved about 634,500 tonnes of cargo in the past one year and generated K173 million.

Mr Musonda however noted that the reduction of imports and exports as well as operational constraints in neighbouring countries had limited the income generation.

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12 COMMENTS

  1. Kenya and Tanzania are building modern standard gauge railways.What is ZR doing with its money to modernize its rolling stock and what has GRZ done with the Eurobond monies?

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    • This is what happens when you send Grade 12 MPs to tour a company …they are offered full English Breakfast for Breakfast, T-bone steak with chips for lunch and biscuits at tea time…they come back and report that the company needs more money that before. $120m is a lot of money given that its a loan ..maybe a drop in the ocean for a underfunded ZRL but we need to see the books before pumping in more money.

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    • Time to change our thinking about interface between railway & road systems. We need to allow these 2 systems to efficiently operate & compete. We can’t protect or discourage one if we are to achieve efficiency. Our highways should have minimum 3 lanes on each side so that 3rd lane is dedicated truck or heavy vehicle lane. That way we’ll only be maintaining a single lane which truck companies can fund through appropriate tolls. This will reduce maintenance & accidents on other 2 lanes. Then GRZ can concentrate on funding & making rail competitive rather than rebuilding whole sections of roads every year. This is what other forward looking countries do who have stopped building dual lane highways. God Bless Zambia!

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  2. These foools are talking of
    Injecting in more funds without first asking for a thorough audit on how thst $120m was spent..why do we have such dull MPs in these commitees.

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    • Support Siakalima. Even our colonial masters new that heavy trucks would destroy roads. So all mining towns were connected by railway because of heavy nature of mining equipment. Yes imports through ZR have reduced cause of heavy mining equipment being transported by road.

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    • No one is disputing what he is saying but merely uttering based on what they saw from the tour does not equate to all being fine and progressing as they are not rail experts to come to that conclusion. The taxpayer pumped in $120m into ZRL which we have to payback hence these MPs should have first asked for an audit of accounts in the last 4 years then conclude that the company needs recapitalization and retooling ..this is a company that has lost 2 CEOs within 5 years.

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    • @George – as long as the elite and ministers own haulage firms likes of GBM, Kambwilis, Meembe etc and well known Party sponsors ZRL will never be number one transporter as these greedy politicians can not stand to loose out those lucrative mining contracts. Prof. Chriwa’s dream of turning ZRL was first laughed at by politicians and the elite but when they soon realized that their businesses would be affected they started throwing spanners in the works.

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  3. @Jay Jay- walasa. No need to pump in more money without knowing how the $120m was used. $120m is alot of money in business. They shud publish what they did with the money including allowances and I bet the scale will weigh heavily on allowances

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    • @Brown Envelope – we elect Grade 12s in Parliament who come to conclusions based on visual evidence and take it as an opportunity to earn an allowance, I doubt it if they have visited or seen a well run efficient Railway company on Earth. We have not heard them call the ZRL CEO and quizz them..in fact these meetings should be public.
      More over there is a works factory in Kabwe that is lying idle..this is can be used to assemble ambulances or tractors for the whole central African region.

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  4. $120 million Euro bond, or are we going to pretend that never existed? Audit the whole of Zambia Railways and its boards.

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  5. What plans has ZRL got to turn around what they already have? Why are they always asking for more money? Increased funding may not be the solution, let them borrow from commercial banks. It’s contradictory, they’re are saying they don’t much cargo to move because of a slow down in economic activities in the region, so what do they need money for? Is it to increase their capacity or to cushion diminished income?

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