Saturday, August 28, 2010

Rupiah calls for efficient operations of the Chipata-Mchinji railway

Rupiah calls for efficient operations of the Chipata-Mchinji railway
By Ernest Chanda and Christopher Miti in Chipata
Sat 28 Aug. 2010, 15:10 CAT

PRESIDENT Rupiah Banda has appealed to Central and Eastern African Railways (CEAR) Limited of Malawi and Zambia Railways to ensure efficiency in the operations of the newly commissioned Chipata-Mchinji railway line. Commissioning the railway line in Chipata on Friday, President Banda warned that if there was no efficiency, it could discourage potential users.

“And therefore I wish to appeal to the operator Central and Eastern Africa Railways the managers of this railway to ensure that operations are done in an efficient manner with minimal delays in the transportation of goods and services. If efficiency erodes this service, it will discourage potential users of this huge investment,” President Banda said.

“Therefore, should you require any assistance or experience any difficulties in its operations you require interventions of our three governments, do not hesitate to consult us. It is indeed a wonderful occasion for me and other leaders in government and my colleagues from the ruling party, MMD we feel proud to conclude this task. We have concluded and now we will go forward to Katete and wherever until this rail line joins the rest of the country.”

The Chipata-Mchinji rail line project was initiated by the Kenneth Kaunda administration in the late 1970s.

Construction works were then started in 1983 and later abandoned in 1990.

However, late president Levy Mwanawasa revived the project in 2006, which he unfortunately didn't live to see completed.

Earlier in the day, communications and transport minister Professor Geoffrey Lungwangwa and his two counterparts from Malawi and Mozambique, Sidik Mia and Paulo Zucule respectively, signed a tripartite regional agreement on the Chipata-Mchinji railway line.

And Malawian President Professor Bingu wa Mutharika said the railway line was an important and historic milestone in the development of transport infrastructure between Zambia and Malawi.

He said the railway line was also a realisation of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) programme of strengthening regional economic integration.

He said the railways in Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia played an important role in the economic development.

Prof Wa Mutharika thanked Dr Kenneth Kaunda the initiator of the Chipata-Mchinji railway project for his vision.

“Dr Kaunda sung a song called ‘Tiyende Pamodzi’ and in Malawi we also sing the same song. Today, we have to be together Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique we are moving together forward to development,” President Mutharika said.

He said both Zambia and Malawi were landlocked countries and as such the development of the infrastructure especially the railway was of vital importance to the development of the two countries and Mozambique.

“This railway line will also provide connectivity among the people of
Zambia and Malawi right to the Port of Nacara and also when the Zambezi-Shire Water ways project is completed Zambia will be linked to Beira and other ports. It is therefore expected that this initiative will enhance the transport capacity of the three countries and also help in the reduction of transport costs which is currently very high,” President Wa Mutharika said.

He said the project was in line with the Malawi road and development strategy under which transport infrastructure is accorded the highest priority.

“It is in this context that I would urge the members of the African Union to speed up the implementation of the programme for infrastructure development in Africa especially in utilising resources for the construction and rehabilitation of the existing ones as well as highways, waterways to link up the continent with the rest of the world,” President Mutharika said.

Mozambican transport minister Paulo Zucule said the commissioning of the railway line would help reduce poverty among the three countries.

“Hunger and thirst are difficult things, starvation and poverty must go forever and for good,” he said.

Zucule said the railway line would further improve economic development among Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.

“Today, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique have done one more significant thing to materialise the vision of the generation of our freedom fighters,” said Zucule.

The commissioning of the railway line attracted diplomats, traditional
leaders and other important dignitaries.

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