TANZANIA Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) regional general manager Kambani Ndhlovu says the company will soon be producing its own spares for wagons and locomotives in Mpika.

And Transport and Communications Minister Mutotwe Kafwaya says TAZARA should take advantage of available opportunities as government looks at ways of revitalising the company.

Speaking when Kafwaya toured the Kasama train station, Saturday, Ndhlovu said the Mpika workshop would also be producing mill balls.

“We have got three workshops in TAZARA and one of the workshops is in Mpika, it’s actually one of the biggest in the region because it’s got many workshops within one workshop. It is a facility that in the very near future we will be making spares for our wagons and locomotives because we are going to be building a furnace and in that furnace, the spare capacity will be used for mill balls which are utilised within the facility and I think it’s a big project and I hope you find time to visit these places. We also have a training centre in Mpika where we are collaborating with CBU and it’s working very well. The graduates, rail engineers, are coming to use the workshop for their lab as it were, they use our facility then it’s like hands on so that by time they are graduating, they are used to the rural environment in Mpika so that when they join TAZARA, they don’t run away because of the shock, coming from Lusaka or the Copperbelt, they would have gotten used completely to the environment and also to the equipment. So it’s working and I am hoping that it will continue,” said Ndhlovu.

And Kafwaya said despite the company having challenges, there were opportunities which could be exploited to improve its efficiency.

“I think for me, it was important to visit one of your facilities to try and marry the issues that are raised in our meetings with the situation on the ground. And as you say, it would be appropriate for me to consider visiting the regional headquarters which is in Mpika but starting with Kasama obviously gives me some idea of what may be prevailing elsewhere and I am delighted by the support you have tendered during this process. What I do see is that we have opportunities but also we have challenges. My thinking is that these challenges you have to do with quality of service to our customers, to do with capacity in general, human resource capacity, equipment should be addressed by the solution that we have already started working on, in the long term we should be able to address that. We have all established where we are in terms of that revitalisation process. I hope that it does complete quickly so that we begin to inject capital into critical attention just about now. I also think that all these opportunities that we see should be seized,” said Kafwaya.

“I am already happy that you are working with some of the mines, emerging mines in Luapula Province, example is this manganese we see. You are already taking advantage of this region being a food basket by facilitating the transportation of maize for FRA from this part of the country to where FRA is storing the maize in Central Province. So these opportunities must be seized but also opportunities to improve our ability to deliver these services. So clearly, it’s an eye opener for me and a facilitator in terms of linking document information to actually what is on the ground.”