By Canon Eng Kenneth Chense
The key success factor that can unlock capital funds into the railway industry, on a debt-free PPP basis, to relieve the destructive stress on the tarmac road system, is to separate the railway fixed stock from the rolling stock, for accelerated economic gain to occur on a win-win basis.
The private investors can be attracted to run the train system (rolling stock), while government retains ownership of the (fixed stock) railway tracks.
A deal can then be struck to allow the private investors to bring in money for capital investment into the government owned railway track system, with a promise of a return on investment from the cargo carriage on their train system. The private investors would influence the design and construction of modern railway tracks to suit the kind of cargo trains and speed trains they could bring in to run on the railway system.
Government would also be guaranteed of long term future revenues though a toll gate levy on the train system, controlled by state of the art train movement detection SCADA stations and and supported by e-payment systems. The revenue thus obtained can be used to maintain the railway tracks and run other government operations.
Eventually, Zambia can open up routes, of vibrant commerce, throughout the country. Furthermore, if protocols were to be nicely structured and signed, the trade routes for the entire sub region can be carefully knitted to link the inland counties to feed the entire world through export of products. The coastline nations can, additionally focus on scaling up the shipping industry. This would assure the integrated economic prosperity of the SADC and COMESA subregion.
Similar high impact engineering, economic, national and international partnerships can realign investment in the road, water, electricity and communication infrastructure; to ride on indigenous banking and insurance supporting base.
The writer is the Managing Director for Luapula Water and Sewerage Company in Zambia.