Zambia Railways aim to link mines

‘Rejuvenated’ Zambia Railways Limited has mobilized over US$50 million to re-establish an intermine railway network, ostensibly, to ease the cost of doing business by players in the country’s copper and mining sector.

The more than 100-year-old Zambia Railways Limited, one of the beneficiaries of the US$750 million Euro bond finances secured by the Government seeks to rebuild the country’s infrastructure.

The infrastructure includes its railway slippers, running from Chililabombwe to Livingstone, which is intended to be ultimately linked to all parts of the country and ease the wear and tear on the roads in the countryside.

The financial bolster from Government has prompted the company to drawn up an ambitious programme to ensure it, once the task is completed, haul an estimated three million tons of cargo per annum.

Since 1930s, mining companies in Zambia have relied on both Zambia Railways and later the Tanzania Zambia Railways to transport their mineral related products from various mining units to various pick up points for onward transportation to the port of Dar-es-salaam.

The copper related products, one of Zambia’s key contributors to the Gross Domestic Products, are then exported to among other major consumer countries, China and Switzerland.

According to the company’s blueprint, the railway liner has estimated to generate about US$60 million per annum once the project is implemented as well as reduce damage to the country’s road network.

Presently, ZRL has a total inter-mine link of 167 kilometers and plans to construct an additional 97.1 km of new railway lines, to encompass 10 mining zones.

Zambia Railways seeks to re-establish an efficient inter-mine rail and boost business with the mines as prime movers of their products.

According to company managing director, Professor Muyenga Atanga, the liner focuses on establishing new ports namely Beira and Nacala in Mozambique and contribute to improved living standards of the communities in the inter mine region.

According to the blueprint, the new inter-mine connectivity will involve linking Lubambe Mine to Chililabombwe railway station (20km), Chambishi Copper smelter to Chambishi railway station (5km), Mwekera and Neel Kathi lime plant to the Ndola railway line respectively.

Others are Dangote Cement to Bwana Mkubwa line, Bwana Mkubwa to Bridge shipping, Ndola to Luanshya mine, Konkola Copper Mine to Nchanga and Mopani Mine to the Mufulira railway station.

“Capital injection of US$50million is required to construct the new lines to new inter-mine production centres and to grow the business.

The company seeks to raise capital requirement through Public Private Partnerships (PPP) with approval from the government, the mines and other stakeholders and cooperating partners.

Benefits from the implementation of the 2014 projects would be that the ZRL hauling capacity in terms of locomotive power and wagons would be enhanced to meet the US$5million tons by 2018.

The ZRL also expects to increase passenger carrying capacity following the procurement of 30 new passenger coaches while the repair and maintenance of Mulobezi railway line would help promote socio-economic development in the Western Province.

Other major projects renamed the ‘Green Field Railway Projects’ include the Nacala Corridor-linking Chipata to Mpika through Petauke, a distance of 569 km. The Nseluka to Mpulungu route planned to connect Nseluka on the TAZARA line to the Great Lakes region through Mbala, covering a distance of 569km.

The ZRL had targeted to link Mulobezi-Welvis Bay in Namibia, and connect Chingola to Jimbe in Angola and Kafue through Chirundu to Lion’s Den in Zimbabwe.

On commuter train services, the ZRL announced plans to revive train services in Lusaka and that a commuter train would be operating on a 16 km line from Chilenje to George Township and from Lilayi to Ngwerere.

Atanga is the successor to Clive Chirwa. Chirwa had during his tenure, envisaged to modernize the country’s railway including introduction of an electric train for passengers.

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