Businesses, Cear tipped on rail utilization

Lawmakers and stakeholders at a recent joint meeting organised by Vale Logistics and Central East African Railways have asked railway companies and government to put up incentives to entice businesses to use the railway.

The call was made during a seventh stakeholder meeting of the Nacala Corridor railway operations with community leaders, members of Parliament (MPs) from districts along Nacala Corridor and officials from Ministry of Transport and Public Works on Tuesday.

Katsonga: Transport costs would reduce

The discussion was part of Cear and Vale’s initiative to solicit views from communities on the work with the railway company and give an update of rail operations along Nacala corridor.

MP for Neno South Mark Katsonga noted that while the Nacala corridor was built to cut costs of transport, the line has not being fully utilised.

He said with the coming of Vale logistics, Malawi can revive the Nacala railway line by giving an incentive to business operators in particular those in the transport industry.

“Government could, for instance, tell business that if they use Nacala for transport, they would have a reduction on transport element when charging duty. This would attract a lot of businesses because they would be landing their goods cheaper in Malawi and at the end of the day, the Malawian consumer would benefit,” he said.

Katsonga, advised government to jointly work with Cear how best the two can make the most of railway transport.

“We are encouraging government and Cear to discuss this so that by the end of the day, we see 90 percent of our goods through Nacala cheaper. Truckers may, however, fight against it but certainly, they will be complied to reduce their rates,” he said.

Chief loading stock officer in the railway department under the Ministry of Transport and Public Works Madalitso Kuyera, while admitting railway transport is underutilized yet presents enormous advantages, said government is open for suggestions to improve rail utilization.

He, however, noted the country is progressing in terms of railway transport saying as the railway industry has been revamped, people are slowly using the railway. 

“Railway transport remains a cheap means of transport. One locomotive can pull a load, which can be transported in 50 trucks. Moreover, there are less incidents of accidents and less environmental degradation in using locomotives,” he said

On his part Cear managing director Gustav Stein said the company whose plan is to increase revenue welcomes ideas that would help it achieve its objectives.

“We have reviewed our locomotives and we are in the process of getting new ones as the previous ones are old. What we want is to improve revenues. While we have reservations on some locomotives, we are open to discussions on utilisation of other wagons to improve and ease mobility and foster the transport sector,” he said.

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