Zambia’s nine-year experiment with privatising the rail network in 2003 is being revived.
In 2012 the government cancelled the Railway Systems of Zambia (RSZ) concession to operate freight and passenger trains from the Copperbelt to the Zimbabwean border.
RSZ had failed to invest in the necessary infrastructure and rolling stock, with tonnage falling from 1 323 191 metric tons in 2004 to 690 793 metric tons in 2009.
Rail has failed to recover from the loss and continues to underperform.
This is despite expansion of the network, which includes around 900 kilometres of main lines connected by 2 000km of branch lines.
In 2019, the Chipata-Mchinji connected Zambian rail to Malawi railway, which in turn is connected to the Mozambique network.
Recognising that more needs to be done if Zambia is to achieve its export goals, transport minister Frank Tayali has invited the private sector to partner with the government in expanding the network.
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