(Reuters) – Mining firms and other bulk cargo firms in Zambia must transport at least 30 percent of their freight by railway, the government said on Friday, imposing a law to revive the sector.
Transport Minister Brian Mushimba told reporters there was evidence of a huge imbalance between use of the road and rail sector leading to the underperformance of railways.
Mushimba said Zambia’s rail lines currently had a market share of about 5 percent and the remainder was handled by road transport.
“Some consequences of this imbalance include our bad road safety profile. We have had many accidents that we could have avoided,” Mushimba said.
Mushimba said the excessive use of road transport for exports like copper, sugar and cement was damaging roads and increasing maintenance costs.
The quota system was expected to reduce the cost of doing business because railway transport was cheaper than road haulage, he said.
The government had agreed the new policy with the Zambia Chamber of Mines and individual mining firms and was confident that it would be implemented smoothly starting next month, he said.
(Reporting by Chris Mfula; editing by Jeremy Gaunt)