ZESCO Limited and Lunsemfwa Hydro Power Station say they are ready to supply power to Zambia Railway Limited (ZRL)’s ambitious revitalisation programme of US$1.5 billion that will see the introduction of an electric train.
ZRL chief executive officer Clive Chirwa said the company has developed a three and half years’ business plan to modernise its network from Chingola to Livingstone that includes construction of a new railway line to cater for the electric train.
Professor Chirwa said there is needed to re-design the country’s railway system to meet the needs of the 21st century.
He said this at the Engineering Institute of Zambia, Akapelwa public lecture on the topic, Your contribution to the reconstruction of Zambia Railways as a Nucleus for National Industrial Revolution.
To support smooth operation of the electric train, Prof Chirwa said the company was looking at two options that includes building own solar farm and tapping power from either Zesco Limited or Lunsemfwa Hydro Power Station.
He said the reconstruction of ZRL’s entire business will see the railway firm regain its profitability and become a major contributor to the treasury.
The board’s vision is to rebuild ZRL in three phases.
Prof Chirwa said phase one will include partial rehabilitation of existing tracks, railway stations, construction of another track from Chingola to Livingstone and possibly rehabilitation of Mulobezi Railway.
He said during the construction of the new railway line, about 10,000 jobs are expected to be created.
“We need to move away from that single-line to a double-line system. We intend to source 75 percent of the components to be used for the rail line locally. The industralisation of Zambia has been scattered all over, there is need for a core area where everyone can deliver goods to support our economic development,” he said.
Prof Chirwa said the company’s new business model will focus on five units that include freight and passenger, inter-mine; to cater for the mining industry, engineering design division, infrastructure and commercial divisions.
He said there is need to improve on traffic that has reduced to 667,000 tonnes from 1.98 million tonnes before concession of the company in 2001.
He said 90 percent of ZRL railway stations are in a dilapidated state due to lack of maintenance.
He said there is need for an efficient railway network that is profitable as a core business to strategically connect Zambia to its neighbouring countries.
At the same function, Zesco managing director Cyprian Chitundu said works at Kariba North Bank extension will be completed in the next 10 months which will be sufficient to provide power that ZRL requires to run the electric train.
Mr Chitundu said Zesco will manage to supply about 15 to 20 megawatts of power required by the railway firm.
“We are very excited that the government is very passionate and focused on improving the infrastructure of this country, in terms of power, railway systems and the roads. Once we get these three sectors up and moving, the economy will start moving,” he said.