State to compel transporters to use rail

GOVERNMENT will soon issue a statutory instrument (SI) that will compel transporters and other players involved in the transportation of heavy cargo to transport a minimum of 35 percent by rail.
Minister of Transport and Communication Brian Mushimba said once issued, the SI will reduce road damage caused by heavy cargo and will also help grow the rail market share currently at only five percent.
The road sector accounts for 95 percent of the total market share, a development that has led to the collapse of the rail industry, thus the need to issue the SI.
“Government intends to issue an SI that will compel transporters of cargo including minerals, fertiliser, cement, sugar and petroleum, and this will apply in areas in the country that are serviced by railway,” he said at a stakeholders meeting yesterday.
Mr Mushimba said that Government’s concentration on road construction and rehabilitation over the years has resulted in transporters moving their cargo by road and this has caused damage on the roads, yet the rail sector remains underutilised.
“It is worth noting that out of 95 percent road market share, 85 percent share has been taken by foreign transporters and this implies that revenue generated goes to foreign countries while the responsibility to maintain roads remains to Zambia.
“The development has further resulted in failure by railway operators to break even in terms of revenue generation and sustainability,” he said.
Mr Mushimba also admitted that rail transport had in the past become unreliable, inefficient and uncompetitive compelling Government to inject capital in Zambia Railways Limited and Tanzania Zambia Railways (TAZARA).
In 2012, Government released US$120 million from the Eurobond proceeds to rehabilitate the railway infrastructure and rolling stock.

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