Zambia: Tazara, Malaysian Firm in Rehab Talks

THE Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) has commenced discussions with SMH Rail of Malaysia on the rehabilitation of the discarded locomotives and wagons to bring them back into use.

TAZARA managing director Akashambatwa Mbikusita-Lewanika said management had opened discussions with SMH Rail of Malaysia which will carry out the rehabilitation works for the locomotives and wagons.

Mr Mbikusita-Lewanika said the discussions were in line with the continuing efforts towards capacity enhancement and service improvement through the Smart Partnership Programme that was recently endorsed at the June 2012 meeting of the TAZARA Council of Ministers.

SMH Rail, a Malaysian railway engineering firm has offered to partner with TAZARA in reviving and putting back into operation inactive locomotives so the authority can raise rail transport levels and better serve customers.

In a statement issued in Lusaka yesterday, Mr Mbikusita-Lewanika said: "This is a very positive prospect we are eager to examine and carry out."

SMH Rail will also re-engineer the locomotives and wagons to operative standards and carry out regular maintenance for a specific period, while TAZARA will be required to provide the grounded equipment, other facilities and manpower to work with SMH Rail experts and trainers. TAZARA is further required to consider and agree on the level of payback to SMH Rail once the programme goes into full gear and freight revenue streams are consequently enhanced, for SMH Rail to recoup its investment over a period to be mutually agreed upon by both parties.

It is estimated that through this win-win partnership, TAZARA's capacity will be tremendously uplifted by the number and efficiency of train runs.

He observed that the proposal was one of the various smart partnership initiatives where TAZARA was vigorously and open-mindedly engaging partners and customers from the private sector as mandated by the Council of Ministers.

"In this regard we are innovating and seizing options outside the box for securing and paying back in all feasible ways towards expanding our capacity and offering efficient services to our customers, even from the position of a weak financial base."

"Even as we wait for long-term measures towards comprehensively recapitalising, reconstructing and restructuring TAZARA, we are actively, variously and imaginatively looking for medium-term smart partnerships," Mr Mbikusita-Lewanika said.

SMH managing director Narayanan Kuppusamy said his company had the necessary back-up funds to support TAZARA.

SMH Rail was established in 2000 to provide an array of services mainly to the railway industry, including maintenance and engineering solution.

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