The 1.6 million dollar repair works on the damaged Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA ) Railway line bridge across Chambeshi river in Kanchibiya district of Muchinga Province has been completed.
The Repair works, which a Chinese company was carrying out, Jiangsu Gold Civil Construction commenced in May this year and were due for completion in July, but were delayed owing to late delivery of steel members, which were being fabricated in South Africa.
TAZARA Regional Manager Kambani Ndlovu briefed Muchinga Province Permanent Secretary Henry Mukungule when he visited the project site today that the contractor is currently doing final touches on the remaining works.
Eng. Ndlovu said the final touches being done on the project include tightening of the bolts, gauging and levelling of the repaired rail line tracks.
Eng. Ndlovu said the authority will next week commence testing of the repaired bridge by allowing trains with small loads to cross over the bridge and slowly allow heavy loads before resuming normal operations.
He revealed that commissioning of the repaired bridge is likely to be done next month.
The TAZARA Regional Manager further thanked and commended government for the support and release of funds for the repairing of the damaged TAZARA bridge.
“We are grateful to government for the support it has rendered to the authority from the time the accident happened. All major works on the project have been completed and now the contractor is working on final touches before we can commence testing by allowing low loads of the train to pass through, ” said Eng. Ndlovu.
And Muchinga Province Permanent Secretary Henry Mukungule said government is elated that the repair works have been successfully completed.
Mr. Mukungule who was accompanied by Kanchibiya district Commissioner Chrispin Chilekwa and Assistant Secretary Chiwele Kondomone said completion of the repair works will enable TAZARA to resume normal movements of both passenger and goods trains.
He said government and TAZARA in particular has lost out a lot of money during the period that the train movements were on suspension.
He also observed that roads have incurred serious damage as heavy loads that could have been channeled through the railway were allowed to be transported by road.
“Our roads have been damaged because during the time TAZARA has been working on the damaged bridge, government had no option but to allow heavy loads to be transported through the road,” said Mr. Mukungule.
Meanwhile, Chief Mpepo of the Bemba people of Kanchibiya expressed happiness over the completion of the TAZARA bridge repair works.
Speaking at his palace when Muchinga Province Permanent Secretary Henry Mukungule paid a courtesy call on him, Chief Mpepo said his subjects had suffered a lot from the time TAZARA suspended train movements following the damage on the bridge across Chambeshi river.
Chief Mpepo said TAZARA has been a life line support to the lives of the local people because they depend on the railway authority for transportation of goods and other services.
” We are happy that repair works on the damaged bridge have been completed. This will now allow normal movements of goods and services. Our people who largely depend on TAZARA for transportation of goods especially farm produce had greatly suffered, ” Chief Mpepo.
In May last year a goods train hit into the steel members of the rail line bridge in across the Chambeshi river which resulted in TAZARA suspending train movements.