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Friday, 18 July 2014

State of Railway Infrastructure in Zambia

Editor's note: the article below is from the recent Parliamentary Committee on Communications, and Transport  report (July 2014) which covers wide range of areas. We have extracted the article on fiscal decentralisation for ease of access. Some minor edits have been made for ease of reading. 
The Committee resolved to undertake a study on the state of railway infrastructure in Zambia. The objective of the study was to: (i) find out if there was any policy on the maintenance and management of the railway infrastructure in Zambia; (ii) establish the state of railway stations, railway lines, locomotives and wagons in Zambia; (iii) assess the challenges, if any, faced in the maintenance and management of railway infrastructure in Zambia; (iv) find out if there were any measures that had been put in place to revamp the railway system; and (v) make recommendations to the Executive on the way forward.

The Committee was informed that Zambia's railway network consists of two main systems namely, Zambia Railways Ltd (ZRL) and Tanzania Zambia Railways Authority (TAZARA).

Zambia Railways Limited 

The Committee was informed that Zambia Railways Limited was wholly owned by the Government of the Republic of Zambia and was mandated under the Railways Act of 1982, to operate both passenger and freight trains. The total rail network stood at 1,062 kilometres stretching from Victoria Falls in Livingstone in the Southern Province to Chililabombwe in the north. The track gauge of the Zambia Railways network stood at 1067 mm. Out of the 1,062 total stretches of kilometres, 848 kilometres fell on the main line and 214 kilometres was on branch lines. Further, there were stations dotted along the entire rail line.

Railway Stations

There were three types of railway stations dotted along the line of rail from Livingstone up to the border town of Chililabombwe on the Copperbelt. The three types of stations were classified as big, small and remote stations.

(a) Big railway stations

These were major stations located in big towns or cities along the line of rail. There were stations where most of the railway activities such as marshalling of trains are done. The stations were of big marshalling yards with not less than eight lines at the station. At some of these stations, there were raised platforms which were protected by way of fencing for the purpose of safety to passengers and the general public.

Further, all yards in these stations were electrically lit although there was still need to intensify the fencing so as to curb theft and trespassing. Of these stations, the ones in cities were of some good standard but the rest still needed face lifting as they still wore old designs. The stations highlighted in this context are Livingstone, Choma, Kafue, Lusaka, Kabwe, Ndola and Kitwe.

(b) Small railway stations

These were suburban stations located in between big towns or cities and had yards with not more than eight lines. In these stations, train marshalling was also done but not as compared to the activities done in big stations. Some of these stations also have raised platforms, but were not fenced while others were on flat platforms. Their yards also have lights although most of these lightings were malfunctioning and most of their station infrastructures (buildings) need major renovations. In addition to these stations, there were also stations of the same type on the Inter-Mine.

(c) Remote railway stations

These wayside stations were stations found in between big towns or cities and small towns. Most of these stations did not have more than three rail lines and did not have any meaningful infrastructure buildings. Some of these stations had waiting halls for passengers which have since been vandalised or demolished.

In all of the stations stated earlier, crossing of trains also takes place except in isolated Halt stations where there was only one running line. Other than the big railway stations, most of these stations have some water supply systems either by way of boreholes or hand pumps at stations or by pumping water from streams to the stations. However, this situation was no longer there. Currently, there were no rail staff representations.

State of the Railway Line 

The Committee was informed that the Zambia Railways rail net work which stretches from Victoria Falls Bridge in Livingstone up to the border town of Chililabombwe consists of three types of rail sections which are 60lbs, 80lbs and 91lbs/90R. The combination of these rail sections make up the total rail track length of 1,062 kilometres of which 848 kilometres was on the main line and 214 kilometres was on the branch lines. The main line was laid mainly on 91lbs rail section and 80lbs and 90R in some isolated sections of the railway track length while the branch lines were on 60lbs and 80lbs rail sections. The main line was generally on rotten wooden sleepers and only a few isolated areas were on concrete sleepers. Even the areas which were on concrete sleepers, some sections had broken concrete sleepers. The branch lines were generally on wooden sleepers, steel sleepers and concrete sleepers in some scanty areas, whilst the wooden sleepers in all the yard lines were not in good condition. The Zambia Railways rail network of 1,062 kilometres was extensively in poor condition due to the poor state of the rails and trains ran at reduced speeds of between 20 and 25 kilometres/hour.

The state of wagons, carriages and locomotives

The Committee was informed that locomotives, wagons, carriages and other rail way vehicles comprised what was called Rolling Stock. Zambia Railways Limited has a Rolling Stock Department which was responsible for the maintenance, repair and rehabilitation of railroad vehicles and the associated plant equipment and machinery. It was made up of two main sections; the Motive Power Section which was responsible for locomotives and carriages and the Wagon Section responsible for wagons and coaches. Further, ZRL has a total locomotive fleet holding of thirty seven; out of which twenty four were operational and the balance thirteen were defective and extensively cannibalised. The fleet comprise three types of locomotives namely, the twelve General Motors locomotives of 3600 HP power rating and twenty five General Electric locomotives (17 U20C and 8 U15C).

Challenges face in the maintenance and management of infrastructure 

The Committee was informed that at the time Zambia Railways Limited was being concessioned to Railway Systems of Zambia in 2003, most of the railway infrastructure was of some good standard although there was still a lot of concern about the state of the rail line. About 62 percent of the rail network had been fully rehabilitated with concrete sleepers by the time of concessioning in December, 2003. However, most of the sections in this portion were currently in a deplorable state due to broken sleepers. As the concessionaire failed to achieve its intended goals of improving the rail infrastructure, the Government of the Republic of Zambia repossessed the Company in September, 2012, with a lot of challenges. The Committee was informed that the challenges faced by the Government were as set out below.

(a) Inadequate provisioning of railway track materials and equipment

The procurement and supply of all essential materials was inconsistent and too slow as most of these materials such as concrete sleeper fastenings, track tools, rails as well as concrete sleepers were all foreign procured. Of all these, the most erratic were the concrete sleeper fittings. The only concrete sleeper plant in Zambia does not have the capacity to supply the demand of 665,000 concrete sleepers. Further, of the total 31,000 tons of 91lbs rails demand, only 5,000 tons would be procured due to lack of adequate funds.

(b) Track contractor inefficiencies

The selection of the local contractors to do the rehabilitation had also taken long. Whilst most of these local contractors were competent and had the capacity to do the work, they lacked tools and equipments such as ballast forks, track jacks, beater picks and cant boards which were procured from abroad. Further, some of the contractors did not have qualified track supervisors.

(c) Worker inefficiencies

The rehabilitation of infrastructure at the Zambia Railways demanded closer monitoring and supervision, hence the need to engage more track supervisors of at least three track supervisors per gang of 100 track workers.

(d) Poor state of the railway line

Due to the deplorable condition of the rail network both on main and branch lines, trains were run at average speeds of 20 and 25 kilometres per hour and experienced a lot of derailments. Most of the yard lines were also in a bad condition.

(e) Poor state of station buildings and marshalling yard lines

There were a few crossing loops as some lines had been dismantled in some stations. Further, most of the infrastructure buildings on sideway stations had been vandalised.

(f) Encroachments and vandalism

There were numerous encroachments along the rail line and illegal settlements on the railway reserve land thereby leading to a lot of vandalism and thefts. Most of these encroachments had also contributed to the unsafe condition of the line in some sections as it was being used as a garbage dumpsite for mining of gravel and sand on the formation and even trading on the rail track.

(g) Degradation of plant machinery, equipment and tools

There was degradation of plant machinery, equipment and tools used in the maintenance of rolling stock with time. This was because most of them were over aged and past their life spans.

Measures put in place to revamp Zambia Railways Limited 

The Committee was informed that due to the deplorable state of the railway infrastructure, the Government had injected USD 120 million for the rehabilitation of the Zambia Railways Limited infrastructure. Zambia Railways Limited has earmarked to overhaul the whole rail network of 1,062 kilometres from Livingstone to Chililabombwe under the two year programme of full track rehabilitation as from 2013 to 2015. The main reason Zambia Railways had embarked on track rehabilitation was to bring the rail network to higher safety standards of train operations and to increase train speeds to an average of 80 kilometres/hour.

Full track rehabilitation

The launch of the full track rehabilitation was done in the month of October, 2013 and the rehabilitation had since commenced and was in progress. The process was as set out below.

(a) Re- sleepering

The entire rail network of 1,062 kilometres from Livingstone to Chililabombwe would be continuously replaced with concrete sleepers. All the wooden and steel sleepers would be removed and all the existing broken concretes would be replaced. This was the major task of track rehabilitation.

(b) Deep screening

The rehabilitation (re-sleepering) would be undertaken along with deep screening of the old caked ballast.

(c) Ballasting

The entire network would receive new volumes of clean ballast during full track rehabilitation.

(d) Rail upgrade and renewal

During the track rehabilitation, upgrading and renewal of rails would also be carried out. All the worn-out, skidded and battered 91lb rails would be replaced with new 91lbs rails. The rail upgrade from 80lbs to 91lbs would be done mostly in the Livingstone/Kalomo section and the 60lbs to 80lbs would be done on the Chambishi/Mufulira. The desired type of rails on the entire mainline was 91lbs. The fact that they were more expensive than 80lb rails was the reason why ZRL still used 80lb rails. Hence the upgrading of 80lb rails to 91Lb rails would be continuous as long as funds were available.

(e) Tamping

During the rehabilitation, tamping would be done manually. However, the entire network would be mechanically tamped after full completion of the rehabilitation.

(f) Rail conversion

Sections with good short rails (12.2m), would be welded into short welds or long welds and continuous welds (SWR/LWR/CWR). The welding would be done by way of flash butt and thermit welding.

(g) Signage

The track rehabilitation would also go with signage works such as temporary track signs and permanent signages such as kilometre pegs, signalling, whistle boards and station name boards.

(h) Earthworks

The unblocking and construction of drainages and culverts and repairing and building of formation would also be carried along with the rehabilitation.

(i) Stations

Two crossing loops in each of the major stations would also be rehabilitated or upgraded with concrete sleepers. Fencing of major railway reserves and lighting of major and some other railway stations would also be done. In some of the wayside or remote stations, there were boreholes which were lying idle and some were being used by some individuals. Zambia Railways Limited would need to lease these boreholes to the communities.

(j) Contractors

Thirty-three local contractors had been selected to undertake the track rehabilitation and would be allocated to each of the eleven permanent way inspectors. Of these, twenty two  would undertake the railway track rehabilitation works while four would conduct the earth works and signage. Currently, four local contractors who were identified to undertake the track rehabilitation launch were continuing with the rehabilitation.

(k) Materials

Zambia Railways Limited was procuring all railway track materials for track rehabilitation whereas contractors would procure all the essential tools and equipment required for full track rehabilitation.

(l) Workers

Each of the thirty-three contractors selected to do the track rehabilitation would have a work force of between fifty to 100 workers and a minimum of two track supervisors. Further, Zambia Railways was going to train about thirty trainee track supervisors out of which sixteen would be directly engaged as in-service while the rest would be surrendered to the contractors.

(ii) Infrastructure activity plan for five years

The Committee was informed that ZRL’s infrastructure activity plan for the years 2015 to 2018
was as set out below.

The Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) 

The Committee was informed that there were forty- two stations in the Zambian portion of the line with the main railway stations located at Kapiri-Mposhi, Serenje, Mpika, Kasama, Chozi and Nakonde. However, these stations had now suffered neglect and needed urgent intervention.

Railway lines

The total length of the track was 2,060 km with the mainline being 1,860 km from Dar-es-Salaam to Kapiri-Mposhi. The portion of the track in Zambia runs from Nakonde to Kapiri-Mposhi for a total distance of 860 km. The minimum radius was 300m except between Mlimba and Makambako in Tanzania where it was 200m and between Makambako and Chozi where it was 250m. The track consists of 12.5m rails of 45 kg/m, joined with 6 hole fishplates forming a suspended joint, and uniblock concrete sleepers of 191 kg weight. The density of the sleepers was 1520 per km and stone ballast of size 25mm to 70mm was used. The depth of the ballast was 250mm and treated wooden sleepers were used on turnouts and on steel bridges. The track was designed for axle load of 20 ton per axle with maximum speed of 70 km/h. Further, the TAZARA railway line was designed to carry 5 million tonnes per year of freight (2.5 million in each direction). At hand over, the equipment handed over was for a capacity of 2million tons per year based on the number of stations and 11 pairs per day.

Locomotives and Rolling stock

As at handover, the Authority acquired 85 Deng Hong Feng (DFH2) mainline locomotives and 17 DFH1 shunting locomotives. The DFH 2 were diesel hydraulic with 200HP and a maximum speed of 90 km/h while the DFH1 were also diesel hydraulic with maximum speed of 50 km/h. Both types of locomotives were of dual braking system, air and vacuum pressure. Later in 1979, 12 additional DFH2 were purchased from China. Between 1983 and 1985, 14 diesel electric locomotives of 3200 Hp were acquired from Germany Krupp Company. From 1981, the DFH2 locomotives were being repowered with new diesel electric engines. At hand over, the Authority received a total of 2066 wagons and 83 brake vans. All wagons were equipped with air and vacuum braking systems. There were 100 coaches that had been received of which eighty were for passengers, ten dining cars and ten baggage and mail coaches. In 2013, the Authority acquired 6 diesel electric locomotives from China of 300Hp and a further 4 will be delivered by December 2014. Further, the Company now has 16 diesel electric mainline locomotives consisting of 6 new and 10 old ones. Two shunting locomotives were also to be delivered in 2014.

Challenges Faced in the Maintenance and Management of Infrastructure

The  Committee was informed that the challenges faced in the maintenance and management of infrastructure were as set out below.

Organisational structure

The organisational structure of TAZARA refrains the Company from operating in a commercial way. This was because the direct involvement of the two Governments in the decision-making process, makes it difficult to make commercial decisions that would not have implications for eeither of the two countries.

Lack of skilled manpower

The Authority commenced operations in 1976 and most of the employees were of the same age at the time. As a result of this, now that most of them have retired, (almost at the same time), skilled manpower has, therefore, become a challenge, for the Authority.

Lack of adequate finances

TAZARA has serious challenges of finance to the extent that it has been unable to generate enough funds for operations, resulting in deterioration in performance of the few locomotives it was operating.

For its investment requirements, only the involvement of the Chinese Government has mitigated the situation through the agreements signed under the Protocols of Technical and Co-operation between the Chinese Government and the Governments of Tanzania and Zambia. These Protocols were currently in the 15th phase.

Lack of motive power

During the year 2013, the Authority faced serious challenges regarding locomotives as it only had ten old locomotives initially. However, there was an injection of six new locomotives under the 14th protocol and another four mainline and two shunting locomotives were to be delivered in 2014. The Authority needs more locomotives.

Observations and Recommendations 

The Committee observes the following:

(i) there are numerous encroachments along the Zambia Railways rail line and illegal settlements on the railway reserve land thereby leading to a lot of vandalism and thefts; further, most of these encroachments have also contributed to the unsafe condition of the line in some sections as it is being used as a garbage dumpsite for mining of gravel and sand on the formation as well as trading on the rail track;

(ii) there is degradation of plant machinery, equipment and tools used in the maintenance of rolling stock with time at Zambia Railways because most of them are over aged and past their life spans;

(iii) there is inadequate provisions of railway track materials and equipment at Zambia Railways because the procurement and supply of all essential materials is inconsistent and too slow as most of these materials such as concrete sleeper fastenings, track tools, rails as well as concrete sleepers are all procured abroad;

(iv) the organisational structure of TAZARA refrains the Company from operating in a commercial way as the direct involvement of the two Governments in the decision making process, makes it difficult to make commercial decisions that will not have implications for either of the two countries;

(v) TAZARA has serious challenges of finances to the extent that it has been unable to generate enough funds for operations, resulting in deterioration in the performance of the few locomotives it was operating;

(vi) the TAZARA stations at Kapiri-Mposhi, Serenje, Mpika, Kasama, Chozi and Nakonde have suffered neglect and need urgent intervention; and

(vii) skilled manpower has become a challenge for TAZARA as most of the skilled employees have retired almost at the same time.

In view of the foregoing, the Committee recommends that:

(i) the Government should ensure that the illegal settlers on the railway reserve land are relocated and stiff penalties should be enforced on anyone found to be encroaching the Railway line;

(ii) the Government should ensure that new plant machinery, equipment and tools to be used in the maintenance of rolling stock are made available to Zambia Railways Limited;

(iii) the Government should ensure that measures are put in place to ensure that materials such as concrete sleeper fastenings, track tools, rails as well as concrete sleepers are procured on time seeing that they are all procured abroad;

(iv) the Government should liaise with the Tanzanian Government and revise the Tanzania Zambia Railway Act of 1995 to provide for modalities of strengthening the commercial operations of the Institution;

(v) the Government should liaise with the Tanzanian Government and put in place measures to ensure that TAZARA is adequately funded to enable it conduct its operations;

(vi) the Government should liaise with the Tanzanian Government and ensure that the TAZARA stations at Kapiri-Mposhi, Serenje, Mpika, Kasama, Chozi and Nakonde are given the necessary facelifts; and

(vii) the Government should ensure that measures are put in place to enhance capacity for training in the railway sector.


Zambia Railways Limited 

Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL) is the national railway, one of the two major railroad organizations in Zambia, which was also referred to as Railway Systems of Zambia (RSZ). It was incorporated in the year 1982. Zambia Railways was wholly owned by the Republic of Zambia and was mandated under the Railway Act to operate both passenger and freight trains.

On 10th September, 2012, GRZ repossessed ZRL from the concessionaire. For decision making purposes, ZRL shifted its headquarters recently from Kabwe to Lusaka. The handed over Rolling Stock and Infrastructure by the concessionaire was in a deplorable state and need to be improved in many aspects.

Infrastructure and rolling stock

The Rail network stretches from Livingstone to Chililabombwe and has a total of 1,224 km of 1,067 mm gauge main-line (Mulobezi line inclusive) and branch lines. Its total track length was 2,300 km throughout the country. ZRL has a goods shed in each of the major stations where minor maintenance took place, but for major repairs on wagons, coaches, locomotives and engines, the central workshop in Kabwe was the centre.

Inter-mine and sidings

The previous investor had closed almost all the inter-mine activities and hence the siding became dormant for over a decade. This had given room for massive vandalism and, mostly, rails had been stolen in most of the inter-mine routes. ZRL has managed to re-open the following routes; Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ) in Kafue, Zambia Sugar siding in Mazabuka, Tazama GRZ storage siding in Lusaka, Larfarge Cement siding in Lusaka, MMI line in Lusaka’s Industrial area, Ndola Lime siding in Ndola, Batoka coal bay in Batoka, Nkana-Chingola line, Chingola yard lines 1,2,3 and the main line, Chambishi metals line and Manica siding to Kitwe station. With other new innovative openings on plan, ZRL projects would increase their market share from 12% to 52% by 2018.

ZRL management requires additional capital injection of USD 41million to undertake this innovation on the inter-mine.

Greenfield railway projects

In its strategic framework, ZRL has plans to increase its route length to prepare itself for challenges that may arise along the way considering Zambia being a landlocked country. The following are the anticipated Greenfield railway line projects;

  • Chipata – Mpika via Petauke, 569 km;
  • Nseluka – Mpulungu via Mbala, 191 km,
  • North-Western railway to connect Chingola to Angola; and
  • Mulobezi- Kazungula into Botswana/Namibia.

Lusaka – Chipata connection

The development of these projects would increase ZRL’s route length and thereby grow its business. It would also lessen the cost of maintaining the road infrastructure as most heavy equipment would now move by rail.

Public Private Partnership (PPP)

ZRL intends to contract a private partner on a “finance only type of PPP” to meet its investment needs and develop its brown field projects. For its green field projects, the Company intends to engage on “Finance, Build and Transfer type of PPP” based on ZRL standards.

ZRL new dimension - the Nacala and Beira corridors 

The dream of having a railway line from Malawi to Zambia was conceived in 1972. The Rail line in Malawi to Mchinji was constructed in 1985 and Chipata Railway Station was built in 1991. The Rail Line from Mchinji to Chipata was completed and commissioned in 2010. The first ZRL train run on the Chipata-Mchinji Rail Line was only recently seen on 23rd March 2014. The total length to Nacala port is 1150 Km by rail from Chipata. Central and East African 22

Railways (CEAR) which signed an access agreement with Zambia Railways to use the Chipata/Mchinji Railway line was facing capacity challenges with regards to some sections of the line. The approximate kilometer coverage from Lusaka to Nacala is about 1750KM compared to Dar es Salaam which is about 3000KM and Durban over 2500KM. With that comparison, the ZRL management proposes that Nacala Corridor be the shortest distance to a port that Zambia would use to connect to the sea coast which in turn would reduce the cost of doing business.


To ensure security on the moving cargo, the following has been put in place:
(i) trains are double monitored (every train has a van following it along the road to monitor it);
(ii) all Locomotives have a GPS; and
(iii) all locomotives have security personnel in the cabin to provide security.

Observations and Recommendations 

The Committee observes that:

(i) rehabilitation is labour intensive and standards of work are not observed as everything is done manually;
(ii) most locomotives being used are too old to meet the growing demand and coverage of long distances;
(iii) illegal settlers and traders that have encroached on the railway pathway sides in Lusaka, Chipata, Ndola and Kitwe are living in quite hazardous and dangerous conditions;
(iv) some centres such as Ndola have not been visited by Government officers for the past ten years except for the visit made by the Committee;
(v) the workshops at Kabwe are underutilised and need more machinery to operate at full capacity;
(vi) the workshops in all centres are generally untidy, scrap metals are not properly stored and pauses a health hazard to the workers;
(vii) there is vandalism in form of stoning the coaches, stealing rails and clips;
(viii) the Railway Systems of Zambia has not finished paying its workers their terminal benefits to date and that is affecting the employees negatively on their motivation as most of them are now working with ZRL;
(ix) political involvement in the haulage business has hampered the development of the
railway industry;
(x) the USD 120 million injected in 2013 to improve the status of ZRL infrastructure is not enough to clear the various problems faced by the Railway Company; and
(xi) the green field projects would offer great opportunities for the improvement of the rail network in the country as well as creation of jobs in the country.

In view of the foregoing, the Committee recommends that:
(i) the Government should ensure that modern machinery to be used in the rehabilitation
process is made available to ZRL;
(ii) the Government should consider investing in the acquisition of new locomotives;
(iii) the Government should ensure that all illegal traders and settlers along the line of rail are relocated;
(iv) the Government, through the relevant ministries, should take keen interest in monitoring and evaluating the operations of ZRL;
(v) the Government should ensure that workshops are upgraded to at least meet the minimum standards required for a workshop;
(vi) the Government should ensure that the workshops in all centres are kept clean. Further, the Government should ensure that capacity is built on safety standards both in the workshops and on railway lines;
(vii) the Government should explore means and ways of securing the infrastructure which is being vandalised by amending the Railway Act and also the Penal Code applicable to stiffen punishments on vandalism;
(viii) the Government should clear the outstanding terminal benefits owed to the Railway Systems of Zambia former workers, expeditiously;
(ix) the Government should ensure that the haulage business is depoliticised;
(x) the Government must ensure that the Office of the Auditor-General should carry out a performance audit on the utilisation of the USD120 million portion of the Eurobond; and
(xi) Government should continue its recapitalisation programme to ZRL especially considering their Greenfield projects which can be an answer to the problems currently faced on the state of roads.


The Committee was informed during its tour that Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) is a statutory body established in both the United Republic of Tanzania and the Republic of Zambia, by the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Act of 1975. The Act was later amended in 1995. The Authority is, therefore, jointly owned by the two countries and the Headquarters is in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania but has two regional offices in both countries at Mpika Dar-es-Salaam respectively in Zambia and Tanzania, respectively

TAZARA is a bi-national railway linking Eastern Africa, Asia and the rest of the world through the sea port of Dar-es-Salaam. Zambia being a landlocked country with no sea coast is, therefore, connected through the TAZARA pathway. The railway covered a total of 1860KM from Kapiri  Mposhi to Dar-es-Salaam. Until recently, TAZARA had been a major transporter of copper and other minerals out of Zambia and the DRC, but also conversely served as a key conduit for all kinds of bulk imports from all over the world, including fuels, fertilizers, general merchandise, hardware, coke and other critical inputs into the mines and agricultural farmlands of Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania and the DRC, as well as Rwanda and Burundi through the Port of Mpulungu on Lake Tanganyika. With its sprawling interconnectedness and reach, TAZARA was poised to serve as a critical infrastructural backbone for the three regional groupings of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC). In terms of passenger transportation, TAZARA not only eased mobility for some of the most disadvantaged rural communities in Tanzania and Zambia, but also provided a public railway service that was very predictable, reliable, safe and convenient.

For purposes of inspection, your Committee only toured the Zambian region and visited Kapiri- Mposhi, Mununga Quarry, Mpika and Nakonde stations whose brief profiles were as set out below.

Kapiri-Mposhi Station (Terminal)

Kapiri-Mposhi is the terminal station for TAZARA in Zambia. The other Terminal on the Tanzanian side is Dar-es-Salaam. This terminal was meant to handle cargo to and from the Central and Southern African regions.

One major challenge, among others, was that over five hundred former workers of TAZARA had not yet been paid their terminal benefits.

Mununga Quarry

TAZARA has two quarries, Mununga Quarry in Mpika, Zambia and Kongolo Quarry in Mbeya, Tanzania, each with the capacity to produce more than 2,000mt of quarry products per hour. The two plants produce high quality ballast as the main product for railway maintenance whilst aggregates, chippings, boulders, quarry dust and crusher dust are produced as by-products for sale to the public. Due to aging of machinery, production levels had reduced over the years.

Mpika station and workshop

There were three engineering workshops located in Dar-es-Salaam, Mbeya and Mpika. The Mbeya workshop was specifically set up to undertake the maintenance of General Electric/Krupp (Diesel Electric) Locomotives and all scopes of repair, including the rehabilitation of locomotives from serious train accidents. DE locomotives are TAZARA’s mainstay, employed mostly in mainline operations.

Further, the Dar-es-Salaam and Mpika workshops, on the other hand, are exact replicas and were particularly established to conduct wagon and coach maintenance and repairs and to offer general engineering services and works that the railway would require including: steel casting, general purpose and light metal casting, forging services, coiling of springs, crankshaft grinding (up to 3m length and 600mm diameter), all basic machining processes, including planning, grinding, turning, shaping and more, gear manufacture, heat treatment and electroplating, laboratory services, equipment maintenance, repair and overhaul and manufacture of component parts for factories. In addition, TAZARA had six locomotive depots and four rolling stock repair sheds for day-to-day maintenance, fuelling and light repairs.

TAZARA Training Centre 

TAZARA Training Centre (TTC) which is located 10km west of Mpika Boma in Muchinga Province and about 600km northeast of Zambia’s capital Lusaka, was constructed at the very inception of TAZARA for the purpose of training in-service staff and new entrants to the railway industry. The Training Centre has full lodging and boarding facilities and is a Government certified institution with nine classrooms and ten laboratories, two of which are computer laboratories.

Observations and Recommendations 

The  Committee observes the following:

(i) the equipment at the station in Kapiri-Mposhi is being underutilised;
(ii) there is lack of drive and motivation on the part of management at TAZARA;
(iii) workers are demotivated by lack of payment of salaries for three months or more by TAZARA owing to the fact that there is inadequate funding by the shareholders (Zambian and Tanzanian Governments);
(iv) workers are operating on unspecified contracts;
(v) the communications system may be hazardous as movement is controlled through cell phones;
(vi) fuel supply is a problem as some locomotives are kept to wait for too long before  refuelling; and 
(vii) most TAZARA retirees have not been paid their benefits.

In view of the foregoing, the Committee recommends that: 
(i) the Government should put in measures to make rail transport competitive so that  equipment is not underutilised; 
(ii) there is need for a complete overhaul of top management at TAZARA; 
(iii) there is need for the Zambian and Tanzanian Governments to liaise and ensure that  workers’ salaries are up to date; 
(iv) there is need for the Government to put in place measures that would compel TAZARA to  ensure that workers operate on proper and specified contracts; 
(v) the Government should compel management to acquire safe communication devices; 
(vi) the Government should ensure that fuel for use in the locomotives is adequately supplied  to TAZARA; and 
(vii) the Government, in collaboration with its counterparts in Tanzania, should ensure that  TAZARA retirees are paid off. 

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