Central Province Permanent Secretary, Milner Mwanakampwe has challenged the Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) to improve its operations in view of the support the railway company has recently received from the government.
Mr Mwanakampwe said the government has cleared the debt in form of salary and pension arrears that TAZARA was grappling with to ensure that the company operates smoothly.
” You are aware colleagues that TAZARA was in arrears starting from the time the New Dawn administration took over the government. His Excellency the President saw it necessary that first of all he needed to attend to the retirees and secondly finish the arrears that you were grappling with. So, it calls for you now to double your efforts in terms of input and performance,” Mr Mwanakampwe said.
Mr Mwanakampwe said this when he toured the TAZARA exhibition stand at the Kapiri Mposhi District Agricultural and Commercial Show.
He stated that there is need for TAZARA to be operationally sound as the railway company is strategic to the actualisation of the government’s desire to remove heavy cargo from the road to the railway in order to preserve the lifespan of roads in the country.
” You are aware that President Hichilema is a proponent of removing heavy cargo from the road to the rail because that’s the only way we are going to preserve the lifespan of the roads. We are praying that when cargo is given to TAZARA you will not sleep on duty but work tenaciously. Both TAZARA and Zambia Railways should be able to haul the cargo that will be given to them,” Mr Mwanakampwe said.
But TAZARA Head Commercial, Sydney Bwali informed the Permanent Secretary that the railway company has ventured into other enterprises such as quarrying, production of farm implements and building materials and is currently running a construction unit to augment its revenue base to improve its operations.
Mr Bwali explained that the additional enterprises are helping in sustaining operations at the railway company.
” We are a transporting company but apart from that we also have other business units. We have a quarry at Mununga where we produce quarry products, we also have workshops in Mpika where we produce various farming implements and building materials and we also have a construction unit and right now we are in Eastern Province where we repair bridges,” Mr Bwali said.
Mr Bwali disclosed that the railway company is in the process of hiring six more locomotives to increase its haulage capacity and respond to the government’s call of removing heavy cargo from the road to the railway.
Meanwhile, Mr Bwali commended the government for bailing-out TAZARA with funding to dismantle salary arrears and payment of outstanding pension benefits to its former employees.
He explained that due to government’s intervention, TAZARA is now current in the payment of workers’ salaries.
” We want to thank the government for coming on board to assist TAZARA in terms of dismantling salary arrears and outstanding pension benefits to the former workers and operational costs,” Mr Bwali said.
Recently the government released K72 million to clear outstanding retirement benefits to former workers at the TAZARA.