Economist hails plan to transport fuel through rail as Nacala Logistics responds to Chakwera’s call to revamp rail transport

Presidential aspirant and economist Milward Tobias has hailed a plan by Nacala Logistics, a concessionaire that operates the country’s railway infrastructure in Malawi, to start hauling fuel apart from the dry cargo it is already moving between Blantyre and Lilongwe.

President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera has repeatedly drummed up support for the development of the country’s rail infrastructure, recognising its potential to revolutionise the transportation sector through reduced costs, especially when moving cargo.


Chakwera stresses that a better rail network would help Malawi reduce transport costs, lower commodity prices, and increase profits for our producers.


“Since I became President, revamping Malawi’s railway network has been a top priority for my administration and that it is pleasing that AARG executives had shown interest to invest in that sector. My administration is incentivizing commercial farming to bring idle land back into production through the mega farm initiative. We need local and international markets for these crops and a functional railway system is necessary,” he recently said after meeting AARG executives.


On Friday last week, Nacala Logistics told The Nation newspaper that it is now fully functional, following completion of the rehabilitation works after some sections had been washed away by floods.


The company’s external affairs specialist, Joyce Malongo, allayed fears that this would take away business for truckers, saying this will have a greater good by providing more local distribution business for road transporters.


“We prefer to work with truck owners as partners because we can’t get to the last mile delivery. We are not competitors, we should be partners. Even the delivery within the country is more profitable to those who do their business well,” Malongo is quoted as saying.


Malongo further said the railway was already moving dry cargo from Zambia to Kanengo by road for railway connection to Nacala Port in Mozambique, a breakthrough for the company’s business to service Zambia through the railway route.


Figures from Nacala Logistics show that it costs an average of $0.06 (about K105) to $0.08 (about K140) per tonne per kilometre to transport goods by rail while freight or road transport costs $0.10 (about K175) to $0.12 (about K210) per tonne per kilometre.


However, works are underway to fix the railway stretch between Lilongwe and Chipata in Zambia.


The firm has also started transporting coal to Lilongwe with the first delivery to Shayona Cement Company, giving new logistical improvement to the Central Region industries that use coal.


Recently, the Minister of Transport and Public Works, Jacob Hara, said they signed a $2.18 billion (about K3.8 trillion) agreement with China Railway Signal and Communication Corp. International on behalf of the Malawian Government to construct a railway network in the country that connects the Northern Region.


Reacting to the development, Tobias commended the company, stressing that this will reduce the cost of transporting fuel to Malawi.


“Railway transport is second cheap mode of transport after water transport. Obviously, this will reduce the cost of transporting fuel. In fact my campaign manifesto for the presidential election clearly states that my administration will encourage use of railway transport for transporting fuel as long as the transport route makes use of railway applicable,” he said.

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