ZAMBIA Railways Limited is spending 80 per cent of the US $120 million from the Eurobond on track rehabilitation, says works and supply deputy minister Lieutenant Colonel Panji Kaunda.
Zambia Railways trains currently move at between 15 to 20 kilometers per hour.
The government allocated ZRL US $120 million from the US $750 million Eurobond to help revive the national railway line which was almost halting operations due a cocktail of lack of fresh investments and gross mismanagement.
ZRL has launched the railway track rehabilitation at five different sites countrywide with one being held in Livingstone.
Lt Col Panji Kaunda said the track rehabilitation was the beginning of a long programme that would lead to movement of more bulky cargo by rail much quicker.
“This act (track rehabilitation) is a demonstration of the government’s willingness and determination to resuscitate every element that is required to move our economy forward,” Lt Col Kaunda said in a speech read for him by Livingstone district commissioner Omar Munsanje. “Further, the giving of US$120 million to ZRL is another manifestation of the government’s determination to give new life to the company’s infrastructure which is in a very bad state due to lack of care from the concessioner.”
He said ZRL has been at the centre of the transportation of Zambia’s bulky cargo to the outside world.
Lt Col Kaunda urged the ZRL in-house contractors working on the rehabilitation to ensure that a good job was done so as to support the train speed of 70 to 80 kilometers per hour, instead of the current 15 to 20 kilometres per hour speed.
“Consequently, customers both passengers and those dealing in cargo will be motivated, and this will result in more of them using the rail-line,” said Lt Col Kaunda.
And Central Province ZRL manager Jowel Chilufya said the track rehabilitation project, would result in the creation of more than 1,000 jobs during implementation.
Chilufya said the rest of the Eurobond funds would go towards locomotive and wagon repairs, new coaching stock, wagons and re-railing equipment and also the replacement of the old non functional signalling system.
“Each of the work sites has a workforce of fifty workers employed by each contractor,” Chilufya said. “At peak time, we plan to have a total of 22 contractors working directly on the track in 11 work zones. These will be from outside the company. Additional contractors will be utilised for off track works like installation of track signage and drainage works.”
Chilufya said ZRL will insist on high quality workmanship through close supervision.
“This is what will enable the nation get the expected life service of 50 years from a component like a concrete sleeper,” said Chilufya.
From : Postzambia.com
By Edwin Mbulo in Livingstone
24 October 2013