Railway works progress welcome

Zambia Railways workers in action during the commencement of the truck rehabilitation programme in Livingstone
Zambia Railways workers in action during the commencement of the truck rehabilitation programme in Livingstone

While many will have their own opinions about the capability of many local contractors in discharging satisfactory work in any field, it is refreshing that there are some who are playing their bit to improve such an important piece of national infrastructure.
Zambia Railways announced the awarding of tenders to 32 local companies in February to begin rehabilitation works on the railway network after Government released US$120 million.
The money was part of the $750 million Eurobond obtained in 2012.
The allocation of such an amount of money was a statement of intent on Government’s part to ensure the revival of the railway transport in Zambia.
This is vital because it is envisaged that a well-functioning railway system will relieve pressure on most roads which are forced to bear the growing heavy traffic.
As Zambia has maintained a steady economic growth trajectory, largely due to increased mining activities on the Copperbelt and more so in the North-Western Province, so has traffic more than tripled.
Truckloads of copper headed out of the two provinces crisscross with those carrying heavy and abnormal loads of equipment and other goods heading back to the mines.
The Zambian roads are also the easiest and safest route for most traffic headed for other countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
As a result of this scenario, Government has been compelled to invest huge amounts of money on constant repair of roads because they can no longer last as expected due to heavy traffic.
We thus urge the companies charged with the responsibility of rehabilitating the rail line, to realise that theirs, is more than a paid contract, but a contribution to the improvement of the economy.
They should ensure that works on the railway lines are completed within the stipulated time, which was set for 2015. The speed capacity once repairs have been done, would improve to 80 kilometres per hour.
With the railway system back in full operation, most heavy goods would be transported through this the cheaper route and this would create further jobs.
As the Parliamentary Committee chairperson Kapembwa Simbao said, business houses and ordinary people should be encouraged to use railway transport because it would be cheaper, not only for them but for Government, that is expected to constantly repair roads.
He also emphasised the need for people to protect the railway installations from vandalism.
It is expected that works will continue to move progressively and we urge the necessary authorities to keep a tab and ensure that objectives are met.

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