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Alba Iulia
Saturday, July 4, 2020

Njanji Commuter train making huge losses-Transport Minister

Headlines Njanji Commuter train making huge losses-Transport Minister

Michael Chilufya Express Train
Michael Chilufya Express Train

Transport and Communications Minister Brian Mushimba has admitted that the Njanji Commuter train operated by Zambia Railways is not profitable.

In an interview, Mr Mushimba said the railway firm has failed to maintain a consistent travel schedule for the Njanji Commuter train because it is not profitable.

He said the train service which operates between Ngwerere and Lilayi has suffered from low passenger volumes.

Mr Mushimba disclosed that Zambia Railways spends K700,000 monthly to operate the train service but only makes about K400,000.

He said the railway firm must find K300,000 on a monthly basis to plug the deficit which has created operational challenges.

Mr Mushimba said the company is however not planning to discontinue the commuter train service as it is hopeful that the passenger numbers will improve.

Zambia Railways relaunched the Njanji commuter train in March 2015 and branded it as the Michael Chilufya Express Train as part of Government’s US$120 million investment allocated to Zambia Railways in 2013 from the Eurobonds.

Zambia Railways had operated the Njanji commuter train from Chilenje to George township which was abandoned in the 1990s.

Meanwhile, Government has finished feasibility studies on two routes of the Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL) to modernise its operations.

In this vein, Government is in discussion with two Chinese railway companies that were engaged to conduct feasibility studies for ZRL.

Minister of Transport and Communication Brian Mushimba said the two companies have completed feasibility studies on the Livingstone to Kafue route, and another from Kafue to Chililabombwe to boost the railway’s capacity to meet the demand of its customers.

Mr Mushimba said at the inauguration of the new board of ZRL last week that Government is in discussion with the two firms on findings of the feasibility studies and what ZRL needs to do to become a modern railway company.

“As Government, we have recognised the need for recapitalisation and to revamping ZRL to make it viable. We have just finished feasibility studies on the Livingstone to Kafue and Kafue to Chililabombwe routes.

“We hope that from the findings, we might be able to have a modern railway and have speed rates of between 80 to 120 kilometres per hour,” he said.

Mr Mushimba also said the US$120 million Eurobond that was injected in ZRL to rehabilitate various infrastructures has been able to improve the operations.
He said the company has been able to increase the speed of the trains from about 10 kilometres per hour to 50km/h.

“The 50km/h, which we have attained, is obviously not the ideal speed that we want to have and for that reason, Government will continue to work with ZRL to modernise its operations,” he said.

Mr Mushimba also said Government is in the process of improving the Nacara Corridor to ensure more options for the transportation of goods.

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  1. Is this the same Minister who wants to introduce a National Airline and has just instituted a Railway Development Agency? Reality sinks in! Zambia is in wrong hands…..twachula muno

    • The loss is 300,000 should be overcome by the taxes you tax Zambians Sir.

      I love your Government but in certain sectors you serve te nation and not look to profit all the time.

      This is not a private entity to worry about.

      I have a PhD



    • These PF guys have no capacity to run any efficient company or system. I challenge anyone to name two well functioning PF Govt institutions! However, the guys are good at lining their pockets.

    • Close it down Asap…This is another chunk of Eurobond that has gone down the drain all because these morons do not listen…they told they were pumping money in ZRL. If you want proper urban network you need serious investment for an electric tram.
      These is the selfsame moron singing about a national airline and Russian Aircraft.

    • We told you Prof Chirwa had a better plan. What did you? You threw away the messenger together with the message. Even ZRL is not making any profit. So the whole eurobond was wasted. What a shame.

    • Sad part is we and our children will have to pay for these empty tins mistakes for the is EUROBOND ….they will be enjoyin retirement with looted cash!!

    • Mama you are 100% right. If Hon Mushimba can fail to improve rail system, how is he gonna manage an expensive venture such as airline? He must be realistic and avoid hallucinating.

  2. Just applying paint work on an old car does not mean the car will run better. The concept of Njaji is good, however, it should have been left to people who know how to design modern clean light rail systems. This project is another example of corruption. Someone has already chewed the $120 million allocation and used this project as a get out of jail card.

  3. Mama I agree with you on all points. Musumba is a puppet of those who want to steal by buying planes from Russia. He knows that Airlines are not an easy business. How on earth is he expecting to succeed in the airline industry where there is competition when he is failing in the railway line locally where there are no competitors? I thinks with his foot!!

  4. All modes of transportation have to be accessible. Minister Mushimba continue with your all hands on deck approach to ensuring roads, railway, air and waterways are able to transport our people affordably. We love you. You are a new fresh face and not disappointing at all. Go Mushimba.

    • Really laughable….you see how he has read the balance sheet for this company? When this empty tin of yours comes to Zamtel he focuses on revenue and subscribers.

  5. Lets look at the issues here and not praise singing please. Njanji commuter train is a good idea, if it is planned, implemented well with continuos evaluation, it can even help decongest Lusaka. We leave our vehicles home and jump on a faster, clean and efficient rain.

  6. National Airline, fast trains, water transport…. Comprehensive agenda. Others are not seeing we are seeing. Please continue sir.

  7. Even after feasibility studies, you’re still at 120Km/h in 2017. Really laughable if that is what you call modernization. I do not think we are planning for the future. Any investment now in our antiquated rail infrastructure should at least yield maximum speeds of over 200Km/h. We are very behind.
    In China, they operate at speeds of over 300Km/h and just wondering why these same Chinese guys you hired didn’t recommend that.

    • Transport is operated by local government. Most strategic business is still under government unlike in Zambia where private sector has taken centre stage.

    • @Oval: You are right. And everyone is castigating Mushimba but they seem to forget that the PF government inherited ZR from Chiluba then Mwanawasa, both of whom didn’t invest anything substantial when they took over. Under MMD they concessioned it to Transnet who left it to deteriorate as long as they got their money back. Under Mwanawasa, we built roads and damaged them again by transporting heavy goods on them-a vicious cycle!! PF injected $120m, but if you factor in the years of non-investment, it’s close to nothing. The PF’s sheer will to have an alternative transport infrastructure is commendable in itself!!

  8. Chinese firm to do feasibility studies.
    That one statement sums it all up.
    You can’t revamp ZRL with current infrastructure, you need a new approach, technology has changed bwana minister.please try to use just a percentage of your brains for once.

  9. The idea was mooted when transport was poor in Zambia. KK invited zccm to construct this railway line. With so much transport available it’s inconceivable for a person in a to use Njanji which takes a long time to reach its destination.

  10. So the Honourable is telling us that from the time he was appointed he did not know the venture was not viable? That loss of K300,000 monthly is only operating loss from the revenue point of view. What about maintenance, labour etc? Look, the way to resurrect our railways is to invest in the infrastructure, mainly the rail track, rather than passenger trains. How do you expect trains to run on dilapidated tracks? Do we have to wait for disasters before we think of safety? The recent derailment in southern is an eye opener of what you will reap if you continue thinking politically. This man is supposed to be an engineer isn’t? But he is one minister who does not listen.

  11. Don’t worry! Toll gates are helping to plug the shortfall … Kikikiki. What a business! I wish Sata’s family can protest such bad publicity by CK … Kikikiki. He is the one who liked disaster names. Seems That Njanji train was made by our own Kikikiki. It’s really a shame that we should always expect the Chinese to do everything! Brown Envelops is big business! So our Engineers don’t know how to construct Furnaces to melt scrap metal, design and mould and assemble a train? What kind of Engineering do we teach in Zambia? Cleaning Machines made elsewhere?

  12. Hon. Minister, no one would like to travel with a train that takes two days like Zambia Railways. The trains are dirt, without lights and packed with thieves. There is every reason for people to shun them. Improve the speed, put lights and clean them, we will then see the need to travel by them.

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