PF Government has finally announced its compulsory acquisition of the concession rights that were granted to the Railway Systems of Zambia (RSZ) Limited.
Finance Minister, Alexander Chikwanda, made the disclosure when he addressed the nation on the National Broadcaster saying the compulsory acquisition of the concession rights has been necessitated by the consistence of RSZ acting in a manner prejudicial to the interests of the Zambians.
Mr Chikwanda said the compulsory acquisition of the concession rights has been done due to high unacceptable levels of derailments, loss of life and property.
He stated that the decision has been arrived at in accordance with cabinet’s mandate to safeguard the interest of the people of Zambia, adding that to this effect Zambia Railways Limited takes over the operations and management of the railway network which was the subject of the concession Agreement in 2003.
Last week, President Michael Sata directed that the railways be grabbed and that he was ready to be taken to court if need be.
It is not clear whether the PF wants to pump in tax-payers money in revamping the railways or whether any investor would be willing to buy it due to unstable economic and governance policies that have so far led to the country failing to sell Euro-bonds on the international markets.
So far the PF government have reversed the sale of Zamtel and Finance Bank, actions that have made some investors nervous in risking money in Zambia.
The PF government is also planning to ‘nationalise’ the formerly state-owned Zanaco Bank which they claim was corruptly sold by the Levy Mwanawasa administration.
In announcing the ‘nationalisation’ of the railways, Finance Minister cited mismanagement of the Zambia Railways infrastructure and the rolling stock which in turn led to the deterioration of the Zambia Railways assets and resultant loss to the country as a whole.
Mr Chikwanda further noted that government observed, among other concerns, that the objectives of the concession had not been met and such as the exorbitant railway transport costs as compared to road transport which had for some time now led to non utilization of rail transportation.
He assured that government remains determined to safeguard the safety and interest in the country’s railway sector and to ensure sustainability for the Zambian people.
The minister explained that government is committed to ensuring that there are sustainable and cost effective measures in place to manage the railway infrastructure.