ON February 12, this column featured an article on the state of the railway sector in Zambia narrowing down to the importance of the Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA).
The article followed President Michael Sata’s facebook message on the performance of Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL) in 2013.
The column generated some interest from various quarters of society and there was one notable contributor whose views I would like to focus on today.
Ray Forder wrote from Australia asking about some development in the railway sector in Zambia.
He wrote that:
I have read your article in the Times of Zambia regarding the poor state of the Tazara Railway Line.
Very interesting indeed!
I have read recently that the Benguela Railway in Angola is due to return to full length service during this year, linking it with the Atlantic port and eastern locations near the Mines in Katanga.
Also, a South African company is hoping that funds will become available to extend the Zambia Railways system from the Chingola area to the Solwezi location – and beyond, to the Angolan border?
There it will link-up with the Benguela line thus permitting access to the Atlantic Ocean port of Lobito Bay.
If this comes about, then the 1.067 metre gauge line will surely, out-do the one metre gauge of the Tazara line.
Is there a conflict of interests here?
If I recall correctly the rail trucks carrying goods and copper, are off-loaded from the standard gauge 1.067 metre trucks of ZRL into the one metre gauge trucks of Tazara – at Kapiri Mposhi.
Please comment on this please.
My comment on this article is that I have forwarded the issue to some technical experts who could assist me answer the query raised.
Mr Forder’s e-mail, however, aroused a curiosity in me as to why somebody based in a place so distant as Australia could be so interested in something happening in Africa, let alone Zambia!
I, therefore, replied to his e-mail by requesting him to further introduce himself and state why he thought the information he wanted was relevant to him.
My reply went like this:
“Thanks for the message. As for my comment I was caught off-guard and I, therefore, intend to seek the expertise of the technocrats on this issue and get back to you as soon as possible.
I will also need a bit more information about you and what you do. I intend to use your question and whatever answer you will come up with… in our publication.
Mr Forder speedily replied to my e-mail indicating how much he really wanted to hear more about Africa and Zambia in particular.
He wrote that:
I am a retired mining engineer and worked on the Mufulira, Nkana and Nampundwe mines from 1951 up to 1985.
Over the Christmas period of 1985 and into April 1986, I was the manager of the closing down of the Dunrobin/LuiriGold mine west of Lusaka, near Mumbwa.
The latter was poised to re-open on January 1, 2014, but sold out 75 per cent to Bamboo Limited because of the inability to raise the capital to continue operations.
Probably the low price of gold was the reason?
I am now living in retirement in Perth WA Australia. Nonetheless I still take an interest in Zambian affairs as we have many happy memories of the country particularly life in Lusaka.
Railways have always fascinated me eh! Anything else you would like to know?
Still on the feedback from the readers, very soon I will feature a detailed article in reaction to my previous article on the recent turmoil at Kasumbalesa Border Post following the shooting to death of two truck driver.
In opposition to the suggestion by some people including some Zambian Government officials that the establishment of a dry port could just be the solution to the situation for that border area, a truck driver has a different proposal for the panacea.
Look out for this article to be featured soon!