TRYNESS TEMBO, Lusaka
ZAMBIA Railways Limited (ZRL) has recorded an increase in freight in the first half of the year by 70,379 tonnes due to signing of service level agreements with local companies.
During the period under review, a total of 317,625 tonnes was hauled compared to 247,246 tonnes last year in the same period, representing an increase of 28 percent.
In response to a query on Thursday, ZRL public relations officer Sombe Ngonga also attributed the increase in freight to the acquisition of more business from its customers in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the importation of coal from Zimbabwe for the booming cement production in Zambia.
“ZRL participated more in the movement of imported fuel for oil marketing companies in Zambia.
“The signing of service level agreements with local companies such as Puma Zambia [petroleum products] and Lafarge [cement] for the movement of their cargo saw us moving their products within Zambia,” Ms Ngonga said.
Similarly, there was significant increase in the importation of mining inputs such as sulphur. Last year, most mines were placed on care and maintenance.
Ms Ngonga said ZRL also recorded an increase in passenger service providing services to 118,830 passengers against 110,884 passengers in the previous year from all its intercity runs.
She attributed the positive results to increased number of trains that are operating this year and management engaging in partnerships.
The railway firm has collaborated with schools, church authorities on provision of group concessions based on travelling students during school closing and opening time as a way of directly marketing the service.
However, the Lusaka commuter train has reduced its running times to twice a week on Mondays due to lack of appropriate equipment for commuter operations.
Meanwhile, the company has put in place various measures to address the challenges it is facing.
Ms Ngonga cited inadequate cash-flows to fully roll out development plans, lack of adequate reliable rolling stock equipment and specialised wagons as some of the challenges.
Others are lack of export, poor state of some sections of the rail track, old and poor state of train control monitoring system.