Thursday, April 05, 2012

Government mulls repossessing Mulobezi railway

Government mulls repossessing Mulobezi railway
By Edwin Mbulo in Livingstone
Thu 05 Apr. 2012, 13:53 CAT

THE government may consider taking back ownership of Mulobezi railway owing to its deterioration since it was concessioned to Leonard Sifuba, says Mwenya Musenge.

Speaking during a 25-kilometre ride on Mulobezi train from Livingstone to Ndelevu on Tuesday, Musenge, who is transport deputy minister, said the government was providing K68 million per month to the Mulobezi railway for operational costs but the money was not appropriately accounted for as the historic railway had been left in a poor state.

"I agree that we need more funds to upgrade the rail infrastructure but my concern is that you have failed to even do maintenance works from K68 million which government releases on monthly basis," Musenge told Sifuba. "…You come up with a proper plan to improve the infrastructure with the little funds you receive."

He also blamed Zambia Railways for not taking measures to address the poor operations of Mulobezi railway.

"When you look at the wagons and coaches, they are not fit for humans and livestock transportation. Zambia Railways should become proactive and closely monitor the situation instead of sitting back. We need to change the mindset because there is 'I-don't-care' altitude in Zambia Railways," he said.

Musenge, who was accompanied by Southern Province minister Obvious Mwaliteta and only covered the 25-kilometre stretch of the 163 kilometre rail way, said the government would review its contract with the concessioner to improve the operations of Mulobezi railway.

He said the government may consider taking back the ownership of Mulobezi Railway to Zambia Railway because the facility had deteriorated since Sifuba was contracted.

Musenge said it was sad that after 48 years of independence, a 163-kilometre journey could take two days.

And Mwaliteta blamed the previous MMD government for not addressing the problem over the years.

Mwaliteta said there was no political will on the part of the Mulobezi and Livingstone area members of parliament to have the railway rehabilitated.

And Sifuba, who did not respond to Musenge's concerns, said the train was carrying 26, 000 litres of water weekly for supply to communities along the railway who lacked drinking water.


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