NORTH-WEST Rail Company (NWR) has partnered with two foreign railway companies to develop a three-phase rail line project that will connect Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola.
In an agreement NWR has signed with two UK based firms, UROVEN LTD and Smart Operations, “the parties will work on the Bankability Feasibility Study (BFS) for Phase 1A Chingola-Solwezi, to enable the successful start of the project”.
According to a statement released by a South Africa-based brand imaging firm, African Story Teller, 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.
The statement explained that in totality NWR has a long-term three-phase approach to complete the rail-link that would start from Chingola through North Western Province to Benguela in Angola.
It stated that phase 1A includes the construction of the first 166 kilometres of the railway which will link the existing North-South Rail Corridor at Chingola to the new Solwezi freight terminal.
From there the rail line would 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 would unlock economic growth and export revenue generation opportunities in the Copperbelt, and North West region known for its mining and agricultural exports.
And NWR chairman Enoch Kavindele anticipated a great reduction of heavy freight on public roads.
“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 per cent of heavy freight in the country by rail, thereby reducing the amount of heavy freight on public roads,” said Kavindele.
Upon 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.
In welcoming the partnership, Smart Operations leader Peter Cedervall said, “We are a preferred optimisation partner to railway operators, bringing new technologies and assets that provide reliable and efficient operations.”