THE Swedish government is expected to commence a full rehabilitation of Zambia’s railway network from Livingstone to Chingola, through a Public Private Partnership arrangement.
Swedish Ambassador to Zambia Johan Hallenborg said this when he led a Swedish delegation to pay a courtesy call on President Hakainde Hichilema at State House yesterday.
“These assessments have been quite comprehensive, and they have been so to be able to say that we fully follow international standards. So, in our view, the time to continue this rehabilitation is here and is now,” Mr Hallenborg said.
He said the Swedish government truly believed that the rehabilitation of the Livingstone- to-Chingola railway stretch would provide opportunities to Zambia to meet its goal of goods transportation and assist in the transition into a green and sustainable economy.
He said the other benefits to be derived from the rehabilitation works included job creation and economic growth.
He said Zambia and Sweden had been partnering in the railway sector for more than 20 years and the delegation’s visit to State House was to follow-up on that long-term collaboration.
“One of the main purposes of the visit is to reconfirm the Swedish government’s commitment to this railway project. to follow-up on that long- term collaboration.
This project was developed in close collaboration between Sweden and Zambia and it offers a robust and reliable holistic solution for rehabilitating your most important stretch of railway,” he said.
In response, President Hichilema said the two countries had been long standing partners and he was appreciative of the support that Sweden had rendered to Zambia and would like that to continue, specifically, around the railway system.
President Hichilema said it was critical for Zambia’s railway system to be working because of the benefits that would accrue, citing protection of roads from damage because heavier loads would be transported through the railway network.
“It’s a very important project to us, I repeat, and we have our own agenda, for example, to carry up to three million tonnes of material in the mining sector in the next decade. So, infrastructure like this must really be up to speed and appropriate to allow us to achieve some of our economic targets such as the increase in production of our metals.” President Hichilema said.
Mr Hichilema said he was delighted about the meeting on the rehabilitation of Zambia’s railway system and was hopeful the discussions could move forward because there were a bit of slowdowns, citing transitional issues on the part of the ‘New Dawn’ administration.
There have been discussions of revitilising Zambia Railways Limited, with Bombardier Transportation having shown interest to take up the task of rehabilitating: more than 900 kilometres of the main rail line