Tuesday, April 10, 2012
By Kabanda Chulu
Tue 10 Apr. 2012, 13:29 CAT
THERE is need to create a vibrant railway system because the road network cannot sustain the increasing transport demands of the mining and other economic sectors, says transport minister Yamfwa Mukanga.
In an interview on Sunday, Mukanga said the government was putting in place measures aimed at revamping the railway sector so that Zambia could become a trade hub with efficient railway systems.
"It is our desire to save the deteriorating road infrastructure and in this year's budget we have allocated funds for feasibility studies to see how Nseluka can be linked to Mpulungu by rail and we are also considering linking Mpika to Chipata by rail so that we open up the Nacala trade corridor up to Beira. And we shall engage the developers of the North Western Railway to find out the challenges they are facing because government wants that project to take off," Mukanga said.
"And we are also trying to address the lack of engines at Mchinji by engaging cooperating partners who have shown interest in giving us some second-hand locomotive engines."
He disclosed that various options were being considered to revamp operations at TAZARA.
"We are looking at having additional shareholders or engaging the private sector on a concession basis and the cancellation of the US$37 million debt by China will go a long way in sustaining operations at TAZARA," said Mukanga.
"The Zambian government has also allocated US$10 million in the 2012 budget for TAZARA and these funds will specifically go towards payment of terminal benefits for retirees and recapitalisation."