ALERT Immigration officers yesterday intercepted former Railway Systems of Zambia (RSZ) chief executive officer Benjamin Even and his general manager Pelossor Yair at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka when they attempted to exit the country.
The two were scheduled to leave the country on an early morning flight to Johannesburg through the airport when they were blocked.
According to a statement released by Ministry of Home Affairs Permanent Secretary, Maxwell Nkole yesterday, the duo was found with RSZ employment permits which have since been withdrawn and their passports withheld.
Mr Nkole said the action was conducted in the presence of their lawyers because Government wanted them to assist in the smooth transfer of management at the company.
"Further, this action was necessary to facilitate the audit of assets by the Government following the termination of the concession agreement," he said.
Mr Nkole said it was important that a full audit of all assets was thoroughly undertaken with the assistance of the former management.
He advised that all former RSZ expatriate employees who intended to travel out of the country should formalise their travel with the Immigration Department.
The development follows Government's decision to cancel the RSZ concession agreement and the subsequent take-over of the railway company on Tuesday.
The concessioning of ZRL assets and operations was awarded to RSZ for a 20-year period from 2003 in respect of the freight business and seven years for the passenger business.
It covered the whole inter-mine railway network on the Copperbelt as well as the long haul railway from the Copperbelt to Livingstone.
Finance Minister, Alexander Chikwanda announced the revocation of the agreement on Tuesday in which the management of the railway firm has reverted to ZRL for the first time since 2003.
"On behalf of the Government, I wish to inform the nation that Cabinet has decided to compulsorily acquire the concession rights that were granted to Railway Systems of Zambia.
"This has been done in accordance with Cabinet's mandate to safeguard the interest of the people of Zambia, " Mr Chikwanda had said.
He charged that RSZ had "blatantly" disregarded the provisions of the concession agreement signed in 2003.