A leading Canadian train manufacturer called Bombardier has urged the Zambian government to speed up the revival of the Zambia Railways.
Bombardier Head of Rail for Africa Christian Bengtsson told Zambia’s Ambassador to Germany Anthony Mukwita that a viable railway line will play a pivotal role in the transportation of goods and services in order to enhance economic growth.
According to press statement issued by First Secretary for Press at the Zambian Embassy in Germany Kellys Kaunda, Mr. Bengtsson said reviving Zambia Railways will complement the planned return of Zambia Airways.
“Government must invest in the revival of Zambia Railways for Zambia Airways to fully make a positive business mark as the country seeks to become Southern Africa’s trade hub,” he said.
Mr. Bengtsson expressed concern that despite signing a Memorandum of Understanding in 2016 to revitalize Zambia Railways, the deal has not progressed.
However, Zambia’s Ambassador to Germany Anthony Mukwita assured Bombardier that government through the Ministry of Finance is working round the clock to address the matter.
Ambassador Mukwita said Finance Minister Felix Mutati is seeking a diversified financing package for the revival of Zambia Railways that will give confidence to the Zambian economy and investors.
Mr. Mukwita noted that Zambia’s central location in Southern Africa positions the country to tap in the vast business opportunities to pay back monies for the bombardier revitalization.
Bombardier company, whose transportation headquarters is in Germany, has carried out feasibility studies on Zambia Railway’s 900 kilometre network of which half needs to be refurbished.
Once the railway is replaced and wagons are purchased, the company is expected to create 5,000 jobs and up its cargo transportation from the current 700,000 tonnes to about five million tonnes annually and eventually eight million tonnes.