11 May 2014

Zambia: Chipata-Mchinji Project Progressive

THE historical launch of the long-awaited Chipata-Mchinji railway line which will operate within the Zambia-Malawi-Mozambique Triangle is a dream come true for the three Southern African developing economies.

This follows a very long wait after the idea was mooted more than 30 years ago by Governments of the three countries with the sole aim of finding an alternative route to the Indian Ocean through Malawi to Mozambique, as well as increasing cross-border trade among the recipient countries.

Despite the project facing numerous challenges ranging from logistics and consultancy, to lack of resources, it remained a sleeping giant waiting to be stirred up to life at an appropriate time.

Apart from the UNIP government which was part of the ambitious idea, a lot of efforts have also been made by the MMD administration and the Patriotic Front (PF) Government who have finally implemented the project.

The Chipata-Mchinji railway project is an important one which will invigorate economic development in the three countries and not only that, it will also trigger a scramble for investment opportunities in all sectors of the economic strata along the Nacala corridor, connected from Zambia through Malawi to Mozambique.

For instance, the farm corridor in the three countries will help to attract massive investments especially in agriculture, increasing food production and encouraging value addition to the various agro produce.

In addition, there will be possibilities of attracting Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in the manufacturing or assembly of agricultural equipment such as tractors, spare parts and accessories along the corridor.

With the anticipated goods haulage capacity of not less than 300,000 tonnes of cargo per year, the Chipata-Mchinji rail route will be ideal for Zambia's Non-Traditional Exports (NTEs), copper and other


Farmers will also be able to import through the shortened route at reduced costs, goods such as fertiliser and export cash crops like cotton, tobacco, maize, Soya beans and groundnuts to the international market.

This will also give impetus to international mining firms to explore and open new mines within the triangle that will guarantee ready transport for them.

It is impressive to note that a local company, ALMS Minerals and Mining, has already taken advantage of the route with its planned shipment of 150,000 tonnes of Titanium ore worth US$243 million to the Hong Kong market.

The firm will this year export Titanium, a mineral used in the manufacture of automobiles and aerospace components.

This is encouraging and it is hoped that more Zambian export-oriented firms will follow suit and channel most of their exports through the Chipata-Mchinji railway line.

What authorities should now work on without any further delay is construction of the Dry Port, Fuel Depot, a Locomotive and wagon repair workshop as well as other important facilities.

The project generally will improve the economic status of the three countries, generate thousands of employment opportunities to the citizens and help reduce high poverty levels among the growing triangle population.

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