ZAMBIA Railways Limited (ZRL) has repossessed Mulobezi Railway from the concessionaire to rehabilitate it and ensure it becomes an integral part of the firm.
ZRL chief executive officer Muyenga Atanga said the railway line has been neglected for a very long time and is in bad shape.
“We have taken over the running of Mulobezi Railway this month and we are taking four new coaches to ensure passengers are well served and comfortable,” he said.
Prof.Atanga said this at a press briefing in Lusaka on Thursday last week.
He said there is need to rehabilitate the line and the rolling stock so that it can meet the aspiration of the customers’ needs.
Meanwhile, Prof Atanga said the money from the Eurobond is strictly for rehabilitation of the tracks and locomotives.
“The issue of the Eurobond has been controversial, I want people to understand that whenever you see a train moving it means that ZRL is generating revenue which will be used to manage the operations of the railway line,” he said.
He said the company’s focus is to move six trains a day to increase revenue to provide for the line’s expenses such as salaries, spares and day to day running among others.
He said out of all the cargo on the market, 85 percent is on the road while ZRL only handles a bit although he was quick to point out that plans to increase the customer base is underway.
Prof Atanga, however, said the company’s focus is to increase cargo traffic by 50 percent after the rehabilitation of the tracks.
Government has pumped US$125 million into the operations of ZRL. The national railway firm needs to ensure that locomotives and trains are moving and that its track feeds into the TAZARA network.
ABOUT Mulobezi Railway – wikipedia.org
The Mulobezi Railway (once known as the Zambezi Sawmills Railway) was constructed to carry timber from Mulobezi to Livingstone in the Southern Province of Zambia, when the country was Northern Rhodesia. The line uses the 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) narrow gauge, also known as ‘Cape gauge’, shared by all main line railways inSouthern Africa.
The first railway had been built in the country in 1904-5 between Livingstone and Kalomo and was connected to Southern Rhodesia via the Victoria Falls Bridge, opened in 1905.
The Zambezi Sawmills company was founded in 1916 to exploit forests of Rhodesian Teak on the north bank of the Zambezi above Livingstone. The timber is hard and strong and termite-resistant and found a ready market as railway sleepers, parquet floors and door and window frames in all parts of Britain’s Rhodesian colonies (including what is now Zimbabwe). The timber was dragged to the river by oxen and transported by barge downstream to a point near Livingstone from where it was hauled the few kilometres to the town in wagons running on wooden rails drawn by traction engines modified so that the front wheels ran on the tracks and the large power wheels ran outside them.
By the early 1920s the forests near the river were used up. They extended three hundred kilometres north-west and so the railway was constructed into them from 1923 or 1924 onwards using wrought iron rails which had originally been used for the first railway in southern Africa, the 1861 Cape Town-Wellington line. From Livingstone, where it branches off the Bulawayo-Livingstone-Lusaka main line, the branch line extends about 166 km north-west to Mulobezi