GOVERNMENT intends to release part of the recently secured US$1 billion sovereign bond to Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) and Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL) to improve operations and infrastructure.
Transport and Communications Minister Yamfwa Mukanga said in an interview that the funds allocated to TAZARA would be for revamping operations and the rehabilitation of dilapidated railway infrastructure.
Mr Mukanga said the Governments of Zambia and Tanzania as joint shareholders in TAZARA, would soon deliberate the possible capitalisation process of the firm.
“Zambia Railways will also be given funds for the operationalisation of the Mulobezi Railway and revival of the inter-mine railway service,” Mr Mukanga said.
Government will concentrate on reviving the inter-mine railway service to decongest the roads of heavy loads of cargo such as minerals.
Mr Mukanga said both ZRL and TAZARA should position themselves and ensure that railway rehabilitation projects were undertaken within the stipulated period of time.
“Government wants to see a situation where rail absorbs most of the load from the roads so that this infrastructure is stress-free to accommodate much lighter cargo,” he said.
The minister said initiatives such as the recent introduction of toll gates, were meant to collect more revenue for the upgrading of roads which was costly hence the need for a better rail infrastructure.
ZRL recently said that it requires $350 million for the revival of the inter-mine railway service linking the Copperbelt Province.
The railway firm also disclosed that it requires $100 million to rehabilitate the Mulobezi railway line and extend the facility to the Walvis Bay Corridor in Namibia.
ZRL was previously given $120 million from the first Eurobond that Zambia secured on the international market in 2012.
This money, according to management at the railway firm, has been invested in the rehabilitation of infrastructure and purchase of the locomotives.
Times of Zambia