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THE rehabilitated section of the inter-mine railway line at KCM's Cop Two open pit mine.

Railway sector key to economic growth

REVELATIONS that Bombardier Transportation, the world’s largest train and plane manufacturer, is seeking to invest millions of dollars in Zambia’s railway sector is heartening news and brings hope to a sector that has suffered massive decline over the years.
Currently, the Zambian railway sector leaves much to be desired as most of the infrastructure is either run-down or outdated.
The state of the railway sector in the country has left people and businesses with no option but to rely on road transportation, which is much more expensive.
However, Government realises the importance of the railway sector in boosting the economy and providing a cheaper and more reliable mode of transportation to individual travellers and businesses.
This is why Government has been working to revamp the sector through recapitalisation of the national railway line as well as the joint railway line with Tanzania – Tazara.
Government also recently announced that it would acquire 30 percent equity in the US$400 million privately-owned North West Railway project that has been planned to link Zambia to the port of Benguela in Angola.
This is in a bid to ensure that the railway project takes off.
While Government has shown political will to revamp the sector, the task of doing so is enormous and therefore needs concerted efforts from various stakeholders.
It is for this reason that any investment targeted at the railway sector like the one being proposed by Bombardier should be welcomed by all progressive and well-meaning Zambians.
According to Bombardier president Peter Cedervall, his company offers world-class infrastructure transportation solutions which would help Zambia catch up with international standards in the sector.
For Zambia, revamping the railway sector is not a matter of option but necessity given its importance to economic growth.
It is indisputable that railway transportation is the most reliable and cheapest of all modes.
If revamped, the railway sector will therefore provide passengers and businesses with a cheaper alternative for transportation.
This will mean a reduction in the cost of transportation for businesses thereby boosting their revenue.
A vibrant railway sector will also ease congestion on the roads as businesses transporting heavy goods like copper will have a more vibrant and reliable alternative.
This will also translate into reduced expenditure on road maintenance as more heavy goods will now be transported using the railway lines.
We all know that heavy load trucks are the major cause of rapid dilapidation of our roads.
The investment climate in Zambia is among the best in Africa and world over; it is therefore our expectation that Bombardier will take advantage of our conducive business environment to materialise its investment plans.
It is also our hope that those charged with the responsibility to negotiate such business deals on behalf of the 14 million Zambians will do so with the greater interest of the country in mind.