RAIL TALK

Zambia 2015 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to The Hon. Yamfwa D. Mukanga, MP, Cabinet Minister, Government Chief Whip, and Minister of Transport, Works, Supply and Communication, on the status of infrastructure projects within the country, private sector partnerships, and the importance of adopting a multi-modal strategy.

Hon. Yamfwa D. Mukanga
BIOGRAPHY
The Hon. Yamfwa D. Mukanga was the Provincial Minister for the Copperbelt Province—the focal point for mining activity in Zambia. Following the victory of the Patriotic Front in the 2011 elections, he was appointed as the Minister of Transport, Works, Supply and Communications. After a brief period as Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development in 2012, he again assumed his position as the Minister of Transport, Works, Supply and Communications. A position held to date.

Can you give us an update on the progression of the rail and road projects in Zambia?

Link Zambia 8000 is a project to ensure the country is linked up through a good road network . To ensure that this large investment is sustainable, we are looking at the rail sector to try to transfer heavy loads that are currently being transferred by the roads to rail. To make this happen we need to rehabilitate the rail network. We have two rail networks in the country right now. One is the Zambia Rail Limited from Chingola to Livingstone and from Livingstone to Mulobezi. The second network is TAZARA that runs from Kapiri Mposhi to Dar es Salaam. Due to upgrades, rail transportation has seen an increase in speed to 70km; by 2016, that will jump to 80km per hour. Through this increase, we will reduce the time goods spend on the rails. We cannot have any sustainable development of the roads without rail. Locomotives are extremely important to trade and to the sustainability of the Link Zambia 8000 project. At the moment there is mining equipment and many vehicles coming by road from Dar es Salaam that could come by rail more safely and cost-effectively. Increasing rail transport will also reduce stress on the roads and road maintenance costs.

What specifically needs to be done to make the Kafue River a viable transport route?

Kafue comes from the Copperbelt, and there are a lot of bridges along the way. In order to make the river viable for transport, we will need to remove some obstacles, including low bridges. If they're high enough then a small vessel can pass underneath. In the future, we may change the design of bridges with river transport in mind. This year we plan to conduct a feasibility study.

In what way is the private sector partnering with the government for Link Zambia 8000 and Pave Zambia 2000?

For Link Zambia 8000 and Pave Zambia 2000 we have identified all the major roads, and we have ensured that the projects are open to investment from the private sector. Those roads deemed inadequate by the private sector will be addressed by the government. We are overwhelmed by the level of private interest we have seen from both international and domestic companies.

How will the Kazungula Bridge impact trade?

The bridge is an important feature because it connects Zambia to Botswana in the south. This project will change the lives of people and ease congestion across the borders. Transit time will be reduced, the border post will ease the flow of goods, and more business opportunities will become available in the area. Both countries will benefit from this development.

What are the Ministry's priorities in terms of capacity building for communications infrastructure?

This government will ensure that we have proper investment in communications so that every person has access to information. Without proper communications, development is impossible. To run any project effectively you need ICTs, and the use of new technologies will ease the monitoring and execution of projects. Mobile technology is also necessary for the use of mobile money and transfers. We need to invest in improving internet access and services to all strata of society.

What is your outlook for the year ahead?

Our goal is to adopt a multi-modal strategy for transport. The time has come for Zambia to change in a big way, and for the government to better provide for the people. Our president is eager to provide the leadership to ensure that we move in this direction and at a pace to keep up with the rest of the world.