THE Zambia Shippers Council (ZSC) has urged the private sector to pool resources together and invest in the construction of the economically viable Zambia-Angola connector railway line.
This is the railway line which would open up and provide the shortest route for Zambia's imports and exports through the port of Lobito in Angola.
ZSC chairperson Barry Mwango said there was need for the private sector to come together and ensure that the construction of the railway line between Chingola on the Copperbelt and North-Western Province, which would act as a cheaper export route for Zambia's goods such as copper to the Atlantic ocean through Angola, was expedited.
Mr Mwango said in an interview yesterday that his organisation, which recently carried out a fact finding mission in Angola, learnt that the government there had provided a US$6 million budget for the feasibility study of the Benguela railway line to Zambia which would be undertaken next year.
He called on the private sector and investors in the mining industry through the chamber of mines to consider co-financing the project which would reduce their cost of transportation.
Mr Mwango said it was good that the Zambian Government has also, through its 2013 national Budget, come up with a programme of promoting investment in the railways and road infrastructure in the country.
"The rail network is also a beneficiary of tremendous sums of money. We hope that the rehabilitation of the rail line will be undertaken earnestly and that the mining investors will be encouraged to procure their own locomotives and wagons as the case was with the former mining conglomerate, Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines," he said. Mr Mwango was optimistic that the Government would speed up the establishment of a railway route to join the connector so that Zambia's goods such as copper could be exported cheaply.
"We have not been as active as we should have beeen but suffice to say that we are very pleased that the 2013 Budget has provided for the new customs border posts in North-Western Province which we have been advocating," he said.
Smuggling has been rampant in the border areas in North-Western Province and some people that were doing straight business had to make long detours to cross into Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
A local business executive, Enoch Kavindele has taken up the challenge to construct a railway line between Chingola to North-Western Province to link up with Angola, but he is still looking for partners to jointly fund the mult-billion Kwacha investment.