Ministry of Transport has granted a six-month provisional operating licence to African Rail Corporation Limited (ARC Malawi), a newly established Malawian rail firm.
The provisional licence was granted after a rigorous assessment of the company’s expression of interest submitted to the Ministry of Transport last year, according to the firm.
Once fully operational, ARC Malawi is expected to offer rail freight services on the Nacala-Blantyre-Lilongwe and the Beira-Blantyre-Lilongwe routes, transporting liquid fuels to the country’s major fuel reserves in the country.
In an interview on Tuesday, ARC Malawi executive chairperson and managing director Davies Lanjesi thanked the Malawi Government for positively considering the company’s expression of interest.
He said within six months of the provisional licence, they will be working closely with the Ministry of Transport on technical requirements to ascertain their capacities prior to consideration for granting a full operational licence.
“In transport, the cheapest mode is by ships for coastal regions then pipeline wherever fuel or crude oil transportation is involved and then rail,” said Lanjesi, who is formers chief executive officer of Puma Energy Malawi Limited.
He said the granting of a full operational licence is dependent on how quickly the ministry will move to assess the consortium.
“On our part, we are ready to roll out once fully approved. We will provide rolling stock with our partners who have vast experience in rail locomotive business,” said Lanjesi.
According to rail industry experts, ARC Malawi will help ease the country’s fuel transportation costs, create jobs and bring the competition in the rail transportation business dominated by Nacala Logistics formerly Central East African Railways.
In an interview on Tuesday, Minister of Transport Jacob Hara said ARC Malawi will enhance efficiency in the transport sector, thereby increasing economic activity.
He said through ARC Malawi rail locomotives, more local trucks will be busy at any given time as they will be working to manage huge loads hauled by trains.
“This will provide alternative and competitive ways of transporting fuel and other commodities in and out of the country, thereby, reducing transportation cost of materials,” said Hara.
Founded in 2021, ARC Malawi is a consortium of four companies, namely African Rail International FZC based in United Arab Emirates with operations in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa and Zambia. There is also African Minerals and Energy Holdings Limited, a Malawian mining and energy group, Khula Holdings Limited, a South African-based fund management company and Dhala Investments Limited, a Malawian general investment company.