It is not just any other presidential diary as the country’s Head of State Joyce Banda will Thursday ground-break for a US $1bn new railway line that will transport 18 million tonnes of coal from Mozambique.
Brazil’s Vale will build a new 138.5 km (86 mile) line from Chikhwawa in the south, to meet an existing line at Balaka.
According to Minister of Transport, Sidik Mia, Vale will invest about $1 billion in Malawi over a period of three years for construction and rehabilitation of the railway line.
He said the company “is expected to employ 4,500 workers of which 70 percent will be Malawians.”
The new line will run from Tete to Nacala in Mozambique passing through Malawi via Chapananga in Chikhwawa, Nthache and Kanduku in Mwanza, Simon and Mlauli in Neno and Nsamala in Balaka.
Vale will also rehabilitate 98.6 km of the existing link between Nkaya to Nayuchi.
Once the required rehabilitation is undertaken, a train would only take 38 hours to travel between Nacala and Limbe at an average speed of 50 to 70 kilometres per compared to the present when it takes 5 to 7 days with the train travelling at 15 to 20 kilometres per hour.
The railway will have annual haulage of at least 5 million tonnes of general Malawian cargo.
“It’s expected that Malawi will be saving in excess of $120 million annually in transportation costs and this has an overall effect of reducing the transport costs of goods to and from Malawi by about 40 percent,” Mia said.
President Banda will lay the foundation stone in the southern district of Neno.
Presidential Press Secretary Steven Nhlane said the new railway line will boost the Malawi economy by creating “over 3,000 much-needed jobs” for Malawians.
“Once the railway is built, it will boost the economy further, reducing transport costs and improving access to markets for Malawi’s exporters,” he said.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :