Malawi President Joyce Banda on Thursday commissioned the construction of a $1 billion railway line from Kachaso to Nkaya to ferry both passengers and minerals through the nation and is expected to create over 3,000 jobs.
President Banda laid the foundation stone in the southern district of Neno where it will connect Mozambique coal mines at Moatieze to the port of Nakala at the Indian Ocean.
The rail line will be constructed by the Brazilian company, Vale Mining.
In her speech, the Malawi leader said the development of infrastructure is one of the five priority pillars of her administration’s Economic Recovery Plan.
“That is why this project marks an important milestone in the development of Malawi’s infrastructure. It will entail the construction of a railway line through Chapananga in Chikhwawa to Nkaya in Balaka, a distance of 138 kilometers and rehabilitation of the existing railway line from Nkaya to Nayuchi at the border with Mozambique, a distance of 98 kilometers in Malawi,” she said.
The Malawi Leader observed that the country stands to greatly benefit from the line as it will come with further business investments that will create employment in the long run.
“The developments will be enormous ranging from manufacturing and processing companies, reduced transport costs, and easy access to markets,” explained President Banda adding that activities like retail outlets, shops, and repairer services will also characterise the area once the project is completed.
The President explained that the construction of the railline has come about because of the needs of Vale mining company who are mining coal in Moatize in the Tete Province of Mozambique.
“Their aim is to export about 18 million tonnes of coal annually. Whilst the coal is being mined in Mozambique, the most efficient way to get it to the port of Nacala is through Southern Malawi. And so we reached an agreement for the building of this railway,” she said.
President Banda said while the aim of the line is to help Vale to transport coal, the government has made sure that Malawi benefits from the construction including creating jobs to local people.
“The construction itself represents a $1 billion investment in Malawi over three years. The project is expected to employ about 4,500 workers at its peak, of which 70 per cent will be Malawians, that is over 3,000 new jobs,” said President Banda.
“Once the railway is up and running the Malawi Government will earn 8 million US dollars per year from concession fees.”
The President urged Ministry of Transport and Public Works, government supervisor to the project and Mota-Engil, the contractor and the sub-contractors to carry out professional work “as you have always done in previous projects.”
The railway line will pass through Chapananga in Chikhwawa, Nthache and Kanduku in Mwanza, Symon and Mlauli in Neno, and Nsamala in Balaka.
In his remarks Minister of Transport and public works Sidik Mia noted that the construction of the project is long overdue saying the country would have lost out if the project remained ‘on the ice’ like was the case in the previous administration.
He said the country will gain from the project as Malawi will be collecting revenue that will enhance its economy for close to 30 years.
The construction company Vale Logistics Limited from Brazil has employed over 1,860 Malawians who are directly or indirectly involved in the railway construction which is expected to be completed in 2014 and be fully operational the following year.
According to the Executive Director, Galib Chaim, the company will use local supplies in its operations with the aim of boosting local businesses.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :