PRESIDENT Michael Sata has appointed Professor Clive Chirwa as Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) taking over from Knox Karima, who has been retired in national interest.
Commenting on his appointment, Prof Chirwa said his vision was to transform the rail industry in Zambia so that it becomes the "nucleus" of industrialisation.
Prof Chirwa said in an interview with the Times of Zambia in Lusaka yesterday that his vision was to put up an electrified railway system in the next three years, which would be able to steer economic growth.
He said he would firstly put up a strategic plan with an overall budget which would facilitate the construction of the new railway line.
"Hundreds of thousands of people will get jobs in the reconstruction process and ultimately when the rail is constructed. We want to build the railway line and electrify it in three years. I want the rail to become the nucleus of industrialisation in Zambia. This is my vision and we will achieve it," he said.
He thanked President Sata for having given him a chance to render his services to the Zambian people.
Prof Chirwa said he had, in his career, faced a number of challenges and that as an engineer, this was equally one of them, but was positive that he would accomplish.
He is a distinguished Professor of Automotive & Aerospace Structures and Chair of Automotive & Aerospace Engineering.
He is also Editor-in-Chief of The International Journal of Crashworthiness and Advisor to UK, Australia, USA, EU, Japan, Canada and Singapore governments on Trans-Safety, among many other internationally recognised credentials and achievements.
In the appointment letter, President Sata said the rail line had deteriorated beyond recognition during the concession period to Railway Systems of Zambia (RSZ), which the Government recently terminated.
"I have deemed it appropriate and opportune to appoint you Chief Executive Officer of Zambia Railways Limited. Your appointment is with immediate effect for a period of five (5) years," read President Sata's letter to Prof Chirwa in part.
Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations George Chellah announced Mr Chirwa's appointment in a statement in Lusaka yesterday.
Mr Sata said millions of tonnes of both Zambia's imports and exports which should have been transported by railway were diverted to road transport in the process exerting severe toll on the roads.
He said it would take some effort to sort out the country's railway line including the inter-mine railway, which was critical to the efficiency of the mining sector.
"However, I have confidence in your ability to use your vast reservoir of knowledge to help our country to revamp the railway network that results in a railway system that will create the necessary economic impetus," he said.
The President said Government had taken a positive move in revamping the railway line by allocating K640 billion for the rehabilitation exercise.
Meanwhile, Mr Sata has given Mr Karima a one month notice to facilitate a smooth hand-over to the incoming CEO.
He thanked Mr Karima for the services rendered during his tenure of office.
Government, on September 10, this year revoked the concession agreement with RSZ which took over operations in 2003.