By JUDITH NAMUTOWE –
THE Luapula Northern (LUANO) Development Project has urged Government to consider investing in the railway system to improve connectivity in the country.
Developing new rail lines and rehabilitating existing ones would further assist in decongesting the Kasumbalesa Border Post.
LUANO Development project coordinator Wisdom Gondwe said the only economic and permanent solution to challenges the country was faced with such as damage on the road network and traffic at Kasumbalesa, was to develop a new railway network and rehabilitate new ones.
Pastor Gondwe said the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Great Lakes member states should provide leadership and political will to carry out strategic transport industry such as LUANO Development project among others.
This is based on the Statutory Instrument (SI) No. 7 of 2018 Zambia recently introduced to encourage stakeholders to ferry cargo by rail.
“The railway industry in Zambia is already a 100 years since Rhodesia crossed the Zambezi River in Livingstone to move to Lusaka, Ndola, Chingola and back to Lobito Bay instead of going to Cairo,” Pastor Gondwe said.
He said time had come when regional political leaders should without fear or favour commit themselves to rail transport infrastructure development beyond Cecil Rhodes, who never stepped on Zambian soil and beyond Justine Zulu/ Kenneth Kaunda who developed Tanzania Zambia Railways (TAZARA) because of UDI (Southern Rhodesia).
“As we have always advocated, it is common knowledge world over that rail sector has always been one third of road transport cost in terms of freight.
“We should not pride ourselves as a country in calling ourselves land linked but look at ourselves as transport networked with strategic geographical positioning advantage that we as a country find ourselves in, surrounded by eight countries,” he said.
He said this position alone gave the country leverage to go in all directions.
Pastor Gondwe said Zambia could realise great regional opportunities that it had with the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which every year set aside US$4 billion for import and exports.
He said all well meaning Zambians in all areas starting with the church through to politicians including businessmen, should support the development as it was a catalyst for integrated rural development which late late President Micheal Sata and other Presidents had dreamt of.
Pastor Gondwe said LUANO believed so strongly as promoters of the project that this dream was one of the main reason government put up Serenje/Samfya road project with the longest bridge.