KONKOLA Copper Mines (KCM) has flagged off the usage of goods train in transporting its copper from Chingola to Dar-es-salaam.
This is in an effort to reduce the burden on the road network.
And the two rail systems, Tanzania Zambia Railways (TAZARA) and Zambia Railways (ZR) are optimistic that the reintroduction of transporting copper by rail will improve the capacity of the two rail companies.
Speaking in Kitwe during the flagging off of ZR trains carrying copper from KCM’s Nchanga smelter to Nkana refinery for onward transportation to Dar-es-salaam, Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications Panji Kaunda said the transport sector was critical fact for development.
Col Kaunda said without transport there would be no meaningful economic development because goods and services require transportation from one end to the other.
|Col. Panji Kaunda|
“We need transport to move raw materials, finished goods within and outside the country and even people. This transport has to be in form of rail, road, water and air but in the last few years, we have not done very well with rail transport which is ideal to move bulk goods such as copper.
“Using roads to transport heavy goods has come at a great cost to the economy as the maintenance of damaged roads has been extremely expensive. It has also caused congestion, accidents and delays due to heavy traffic on roads,” he said.
The Deputy Minister said since the PF Government came into power, it had embarked on a vigorous programme to revitalise the railways sector.
He said his Government had earmarked to spend USD $ 120 million, the proceeds from Eurobond with a view to reconstruct infrastructure for ZR.
Col Kaunda said an efficient rail network would enhance transportation of goods, reduce congestion on the roads and help the treasury to make substantial savings from constant road repairs.
KCM executive director for Nchanga, David Ng’andu said the decision was arrived at after extensive planning by KCM and the two rail systems.
Mr Ng’andu said ZR trains would carry copper from Nchanga smelter to Nkana refinery for onward transportation to the port of Dar-es-salaam via TAZARA.
He said KCM had been transporting its copper to Dar-es-salaam using trucks which could latter offload copper at Kapiri Mposhi to be laden on ZR goods train, the process he said was cumbersome and reduced security levels.
ZR Technical Services director Yubya Mwanawina said the reintroduction of rail transport would improve the company revenues from the current 10 per cent to 40 per cent.
Mr Mwanawina said his company was targeting to be moving 4, 000 metric tones of copper per month and soon after would be be happy to move all copper from KCM by rail.
He said with improved coordination between his company and TAZARA the duo would provide adequate security in the Dar corridor.
And TAZARA acting regional general manager Patrick Shangala said the transposition of copper using rail would give his company capacity building.
Mr Shangala said TAZARA would ensure the transported copper reached the final destination intact.
For the past 14 to 15 years, the goods train had never been seen seen in Chingola.