Central East African Railways (Cear) says it will invest about $5 million (about K3 billion) in new locomotives to improve its capacity to handle more cargo.
Cear managing director Hendry Chimwaza said the company has placed orders for six locomotives, which will boost Cear’s capacity to handle 600 000 metric tonnes (MT) of cargo annually from the current 400 000 MT
“We currently have 12 locomotives and 12 coaches, but we have plans to bring in additional six locomotives and nine coaches next year.
“I believe that we will be able to increase our business performance with these new purchases, which will cost us about $5 million [about K3 billion],” Chimwaza said in an interview on the sidelines of a media briefing on Thursday.
He said that with the additional locomotives, the company is also expected to increase local movements from Kanengo to Blantyre, a development which will encourage local industries to transport their good on rail than by road.
Meanwhile, Cear disclosed that it lost about $2.1 million (about K1.4 billion) in 2015 due to suspended operations that lasted five months following the devastating floods.
The flooding in January this year affected eight districts in the country and some parts of Mozambique.
Cear operations manager Bertha Kanjere said as a result of the suspension of its services, the company could not transport about 200 000 MT of cargo—about 50 percent of cargo Cear had projected to transport in 2015.
She said: “We had projected to transport about 400 000 MT of cargo this year, but we could not reach our target because some parts of the railway line had been damaged by flooding.
“The railway remained closed for close to five months, a development that cost us about $2.1 million.”
Kanjere, however, said since resumption of operations and the purchase of new fleet, Cear anticipates to ship about 600 000 MT of cargo next year.
The company also disclosed that the Lilongwe-Nkaya rail section rehabilitation will cost the company $35 million (about $21 billion) in addition to the $25 million (about K15 billion) that the company has already invested in the rehabilitation of Limbe-Nkaya railway line.