The first locomotive train to move on the Chipata/Mchinji railway, which has been under construction for the past 27 years, arrived in Chipata on Thursday, December 10, 2009.
There was excitement and jubilation among people of Chipata who gathered six kilometers from Mwami boarder, to witness the first working train, when it finally arrived carrying ballast stones for the completion of the Chipata/Mchinji project at 13:00 hours this afternoon.
Eastern Province Minister Isaac Banda, who was among the people who witness the first working train offload ballast stones said, once completed the Chipata/Mchinji railway line will uplift the socio-economic development of the country through enhanced trade between and Malawi.
Mr Banda said this will be achieved through reduced transport costs.
He said the development will also contribute to government’s aspiration of wealth creation through sustained economic growth which he said is an important element in poverty reduction.
The Minister stated that this will further cement the already existing relationship between the two countries.
And speaking on behalf of Paramount chief Mpezeni of the , Chief Mnukwa advised the people of Eastern Province to take advantage of the Chipata/Mchinji railway line to boost their businesses with the forth coming cheaper means of transportation.
Chief Mnukwa urged the people of both countries to ensure that once completed, the project is well managed and generate resources to sustain its operations.
He said it was gratifying to see the project reach an advanced stage adding that this could only be attributed to the efforts of and his Malawian counterpart Bingu Wamutharika.
Meanwhile, chief Mnukwa has said there is need for Zambians to support each other in the spirit of oneness if the country is to develop.
The traditional leader castigated some politicians engaged in inciting citizens to destabilize the nation.
Chief Mnukwa said chiefs in the region will continue to support the government of the day, regardless of where the president hails from.
He stated that the founding father of the nation Dr Kenneth Kaunda championed the slogan of one Zambia one Nation to promote unity among people from all tribes.
He assured President Banda that chiefs in Eastern province will continue to support his government as he mobilizes
resources to develop the country.
And Regional Marketing Manager for Central and East African railways, Leckson Kalanje said Zambia, and Mozambique will boost their economic activities with cheaper transportation through the Nacala corridor.
Mr. Kalanje also encouraged people in Zambia and Malawi to make use of the railway line to boost their businesses.
Meanwhile, the Eastern Chamber of Commerce has urged government to speed up the acquisition of land for a dry port.
ECCPI chairperson Timothy Nyirenda said there is urgent need to construct a dry port that will be used for storage and transportation of heavy duty goods.
Mr. Nyirenda said it is necessary to put up a road that would be ideal for heavy duty cargo because the current one passes through a compound and may not be able to contain heavy duty vehicles once the railway line becomes fully operational.