Nacala Logistics, concessionaire and operator of the Nacala Development Corridor, says the launch of its Dash 9 locomotives in the country will boost tonnage of imports and exports as well as cut transportation costs by 20 percent.
In an interview on Tuesday in Blantyre during the unveiling of the locomotivies, Nacala Logistics operations director Gustav Stein said tonnage of imports and exports will rise from 60 000 tonnes to 80 000 while transport costs will drop by 20 percent.
He said: “We needed to rehabilitate 16 bridges between Nkaya and Limbe and also Shire just to bring the Dash 9 [locomotives] here and this translated into a $20 million [about K16 billion] investment. In the near future, we want to increase tonnage by 50 percent.”
On his part, the firm’s commercial and marketing manager Kennedy Kwerani said the locomotives have the capacity to carry between 90 and 120 wagons containing fertiliser, coal and wheat, among others. This is a jump from between 40 and 50 wagons that were previously being transported by the old locomotives.
He said the new locomotives are five years old while the previous ones were between 60 to 70 years old.
Said Kwerani: “This means that now we can transport goods in less time, at lesser costs and minimise on theft along the way as with the old ones, people were taking advantage of their breakdown to steal the goods.
“We will be having other four Dash 9 locomotives starting from the first quarter of 2022.”
Figures from Nacala Logistics show that it costs an average of $0.06 (K49) to $0.08 (K66) per tonne per kilometre (km) to transport goods by rail while freight or road transport costs $0.10 (K82) to $0.12 ( K98) per tonne per km.
According to the Ministry of Transport Joint Sector Review (2018), the main method of transportation in the country is by road, with 90 percent of goods and 70 percent of passengers using this mode of transport for local and international destinations.
In an interview on , National Working Group on Trade and Policy chairperson Frederick Changaya said with improved rail transport comes cheaper transport costs.
He said: “For businesses, savings mean more disposable incomes; hence, more market potential. With more market potential, government may get more tax revenues.
“More tax revenues mean improved fiscal envelope for more public spending on education, health and security services, among others.”
Maintenance works on the railway line were initially launched in 2013.