Transport and Communications Minister Hon. Brian Mushimba has announced the signing of the statutory instrument which moves 30% of bulk Cargo from road to rail.
And the Minister has said that the consultative process over the SI has taken exactly one year making it a comprehensive and exhaustive process.
“The Government of His Excellency President Edgar Lungu is a government that believes in consulting . Its a government that believes that we do not own wisdom and is a government that knows that to govern and to lead a nation, you have to engange the people that you are leading, the sectors that are participating in the economy, and that is what we did. So if anyone is going to accuse us of anything, it wont be that we rushed this process because we started this a year ago to make sure that we started correcting this imbalance and make sure that we start moving some cargo back to railway.” He said.
And the Minister stated that they used the one year consultation period to ensure that the investments in the railway sector was kept up.
” We have talked about the euro bond. The 120 Million dollars that was given to the railway sector, to Zambia railways. We have talked about further investments into Tazara and we have asked a lot of the management of the two railway companies to make sure that they will be able to handle it because as we started the conversations, they also started building capacity.
The Minister expressed confidence that the process was going to be very beneficial to the transport sector stating that by moving 30% of the bulk cargo from road to rail, it would make the roads safer .
” We are going to make sure that our roads are preserved and live the lives they are supposed to live. We are also going to revitalise the railway sector because the extra tonnage that the rail sector is going to recieve means extra revenue for the the rail sector. It means employment in the rail sector. And because of the investment that has happened in the rail sector which the Board Chairperson and the CEO of Zambia Railways will speak to, gives comfort that the cargo that is going to move over will be transported efficiently and will get to where it needs to get within the time lines that are agreed upon. ” He said.
And the Minister stated that the added benefit that would be brought through the SI would be that the cost of doing business in the Country would be impacted.
“Traditionally railway transportation is supposed to be cheaper than road transportation and am challenging Zambia Railways and Tazara to make sure that as we start moving this heavy and bulk cargo off the roads onto railway, they answer the call and make sure that they are efficient and their costing structure is appealing so that those houses that are going to move at least 30% of their heavy and bulk cargo onto railway will have an incentive to actually move much more than just 30%. They will move 50% , they will move 100% of their bulk cargo. Because that is the ideal.” He said.
And Hon. Mushimba stated that as the PF government, they had been talking about the appropriateness of travel because they knew that to grow the economy in the way they wanted to grow it for Zambia to become a transport and Communications hub in sub sahara Africa that they wanted to become, they needed to ensure that the roads were invested in .
“We need to ensure transport is invested in. Road transport, Rail transportation is invested in as well as aviation is invested in.” He said.