Eastern Province Minister Malozo Sichone yesterday launched the first trial train from Chipata to the Port of Nacala in neighbouring Mozambique.
And Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL) Board Chairperson Davies Chama says his company remains committed to ensuring that it improved on service delivery in order to promote the use of railway transport in the movement of cargo.
And ZRL Chief Executive Officer Muyenga Attanga says his company has shown seriousness in the operationalization of the Chipata/Mchinji which was referred to as a white elephant.
Mr Sichone commissioned the train, which was expected to carry cargo in Malawi to the port, at a colourful ceremony where Zambia Railways also received a permit from Malawian government to use the Nacala corridor.
ZANIS reports that the Provincial minister led a high powered delegation of senior government and private sector figures at the colourful ceremony, today.
Mr Sichone said the transportation of cargo on the Nacala corridor would enhance existing relations among Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique and subsequently reduce the cost of transportation of cargo by 30 percent as compared to other mode transport.
He noted that road infrastructure in the country was damaged due to increased traffic.
The minister however said the transportation of cargo by rail would help decongest roads and improve the lifespan of the roads.
Mr Sichone however observed that despite railway possessing many desirable characteristics, the transport system had lost a significant market share to roads over the years.
He noted that regional freight had grown due to increased mining activities in the SADC region and stressed the need to use cheaper means of transportation as this would further enhance economic activities among countries in the region.
Zambia Railways Limited plans to transport 300,000 metric tonnes of fertilizer, minerals and agriculture products this year alone.
“The transit time will through the corridor will be four days which is better than the prevailing sea routes such as Durban and Dar–es- salaam.
The Provincial Minister also observed that plans to introduce a passenger train between Chipata and Malawi were underway.
“Zambia Railways Limited further plans to increase its rolling stock for Nacala from one to 250 wagons and from two to six locomotives respectively,” he said.
Mr Sichone observed that the dry port would be developed in order to improve the efficiency in handling of cargo.
Meanwhile, Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL) Board Chairperson Davies Chama says his company remains committed to ensuring that it improved on service delivery in order to promote the use of railway transport in the movement of cargo.
Mr Chama said it was for this reason that the company wanted to ensure that the Chipata-Muchinji railway was extended to Katete via Petauke to Mpika or Serenje districts to connect to the Tanzania Zambia Railway (TAZARA).
He stated that this would enhance economic activities especially with mineral exploration currently going on in Eastern province.
Speaking at the same occasion, ZRL Chief Executive Officer Muyenga Attanga says his company has shown seriousness in the operationalization of the Chipata/Mchinji which was referred to as a white elephant.
Mr. Muyenga thanked Central East African Railway System (CEARS) and Corridor Denort (CDN) for ensuring that the works to actualize the dream to have Zambia connected to the port of Nacala.
And ZRL Managing Director Hendry Chimwanza says his Company would endavour to ensure the highest level of efficiency, effectiveness and safety by providing competent and certified crews operating trains.
“We will also ensure that we maintain the CEAR and CDN infrastructure for smooth train operation for the benefit of the three countries,” said Mr Chimwanza.
He stated that he was pleased that the Nacala corridor which was dormant for four years would now be active.
The occasion was also attended by Mozambican High Commissioner to Zambia, Zambia’s Acting High Commissioner to Malawi Henry Ngilazi and Paramount chief Mpezeni of the Ngoni people of Eastern Province among others.