Govt commissions re-manufactured locomotives to boost railway sector

Minister of Transport and Communication Eng. Brain Mushimba has commissioned three out of the 10 re-manufactured locomotives under a contract signed between Zambia Railways Limited and SMH RAIL of Malaysia.

Speaking during the commissioning ceremony at Kabwe Railway Station yesterday, Eng. Mushimba said the re-manufacturing of the locomotives currently underway, was part of the Patriotic Front government’s broader aspirations to revive operations of the railway systems.

And Eng. Mushimba said the SI on Bulk and heavy cargo was aimed at optimising the transport sector and reduce the cost of doing business.

He expressed confidence that the country would benefit by allowing the railway sector to play its role in the economy, contribute to prolonging the life of roads, reduce road carnage levels as well as reduce air pollution through the implementation of the SI.

“For a long time, investment in the Railway Sector by previous governments was minimal. This resulted in a significant deterioration of the rolling stock and permanent way due to deferred maintenance. The net result of this situation was major operational challenges for Zambia Railways Limited which culminated in insufficient rolling stock and limited track capacity resulting in reduced revenues. This significantly affected the overall performance of Zambia Railways Limited. The re-manufacturing of the locomotives currently underway is, therefore, part of the Patriotic Front Government’s broader aspirations through Zambia Railways Limited, to revive the operations of our railway systems by making available new rolling stock and a reliable permanent way,” Eng. Mushimba said.

Eng. Mushimba said the SI on Bulk cargo was also part of government’s programme to optimize the transport sector and reduce the cost of doing business by addressing the imbalance between rail and road transport market-share.

“On 26th January 2018, I, as Minister of Transport and Communications, signed SI No.7 of 2018 that made it a legal requirement for all manufacturers and suppliers of heavy and bulky cargo to transport a minimum of 30 per cent of their cargo by rail. As we have emphasised before, the SI on Bulk and heavy cargo is part of the broader programme by the Government to optimize the transport sector and reduce the cost of doing business. It is not meant to favour or baby sit the Railway Sub sector but rather address the imbalance between rail and road transport market-share by optimizing the utilization of all transportation systems in the logistic chain. Through the implementation of the SI, the country will benefit by allowing the railway sector to play its role in the economy, contribute to prolonging the life of our roads, reduce road carnage levels as well as reduce air pollution,” he said.

Eng. Mushimba disclosed that the implementation of the SI, had been received positively by other countries in the region, especially the Southern Africa Railways Association (SARA).

“The journey towards the SI started two years ago and is a product of wide consultation among various stake holders that included the Chamber of Mines, ZACCI and the Truckers Association of Zambia (TAZ). However, since SI No.7 of 2018 was operationalized, some of the stake holders have expressed concern over the implementation of the SI especially the capacity of Zambia Railways and TAZARA to manage the expected additional traffic given our two railway companies’ inadequate rolling stock and the unreliability of their permanent ways. This is why today’s launch is extremely important as it addresses one of the biggest concerns that customers have had about the SI namely: – Zambia Railways’ capacity,” Eng Mushimba said.

“The addition of these three newly refurbished locomotives to the Zambia Railways rolling stock fleet is a clear demonstration of the company’s resolve to succeed in the implementation of the SI.

The three locomotives, that have been manufactured by SMH Rail of Malaysia, will compliment those that have been sourced through other strategies such as the collaboration with Transnet of South Africa and Botswana Rail, among others. I am glad to note that the introduction of the SI has been received positively by countries in the region, especially the Southern Africa Railways Association (SARA) whose executive director Mr. Babe Botana officially congratulated my ministry and the Zambian Government for what the regional body believes is a very progressive piece of legislation. And from their stand point, they would like to see other SARA member countries follow Zambia’s example.”

The minister also expressed confidence that the re-manufacturing of the 10 locomotives at Zambia Railways would increase the hauling capacity by an extra one million tonnes per year.

“You may wish to know that these locomotives have been equipped with modern sophisticated equipment such as Remote Monitoring Control System that enables one to monitor locomotive performance and location from anywhere using a computer screen or smart phone. In addition, the locomotives can provide trouble-shooting information enabling the control center or train crew to accurately identify and resolve problems. This should give some increased level of comfort to Zambia Railways customers especially those that are worried about the safety of their goods in transit,” said Mushimba.

         

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