By JOHN SAKALA
North Western Railway has partnered with private sector companies on the development of the Northwest Railway.
The long term vision is to create a new East-West Railway System which under the phase 1A will do a railine from Chingola-Solwezi and in Phase-1B from Solwezi to Kalumbila and Phase 2 from Kalumbila to the Angola border.
The three parties have signed a co-operation agreement to perform a study for Phase 1A. The study is scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of 2021.
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Zambia’s efforts to move 30% of goods from road to rail has received a massive boost with new support for the Northwest Rail line project.
Zambia’s NorthWest Rail (NWR), Uroven LTD and Smart Operations (a division of TMH, the 6th largest rail solutions company) have concluded a cooperation agreement to develop the first phase of the project.
Within this cooperation, the parties will work on the Bankability Feasibility Study (BFS) for Phase 1A Chingola-Solwezi, to enable the successful start of the project.
The study is scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of 2021 and will include the land survey as well as, the land acquisition process.
In totality, NWR has a long-term three-phase approach to complete the rail-link that will start in Chingola and head west through the Copperbelt close to the DRC border eventually connecting Zambia to Angola and the Benguela railway.
Phase 1A includes the construction of the first 166km of the railway which will link the existing North-South Rail Corridor at Chingola to the new Solwezi Freight Terminal and connect with the recently upgraded D-271 road to Kipushi on the DRC border thereby creating a new export corridor for Katanga mining production.
It is envisaged that once completed, the project will unlock economic growth and export revenue generation opportunities in the Copperbelt, and northwest region known for its mining and agricultural exports.
“The new rail corridor will provide miners and others with a reliable railway solution. Our project is fully aligned with the Zambian Government initiative to move over 30% of heavy freight in the country by rail. Thereby reducing the amount of heavy freight on public roads,” commented Enoch Kavindele, NWR Chairman.
Upon the successful completion of the feasibility study, Smart Operations will lead and execute Phase1A of the project, together with selected partners. The company is set to deliver a holistic solution which includes advanced control and maintenance systems, construction of the railway as well as, modern locomotives and wagons.
“We are a preferred optimization partner to railway operators, bringing new technologies and assets that provide reliable and efficient operations”, explained Peter Cedervall – Smart Operations Leader.