Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Railnet International, an American Company, to upgrade the railway line to a standard gauge to facilitate the movement of high speed trains, Ministry of Transport and Communication Permanent Secretary Misheck Lungu has disclosed.
Mr Lungu said the company has started conducting feasibility studies on the upgrade of the railway infrastructure.
The Permanent Secretary has however expressed worry over the encroachment on the Zambia Railways land where people have built houses and churches.
He said the encroachments are unacceptable because people are building on land preserved for the upgrade of the railway infrastructure.
“This is unacceptable, stop building on Zambia Railways Limited land, you are wasting your resources because we shall soon move in to demolish the structures,” he urged the encroachers.
The Permanent Secretary was speaking in Kitwe yesterday when he visited Kitwe’s Racecourse area and Mindolo Township, where he found structures built along the line of railway.
He said Railnet, an American company, is supposed to upgrade the railway line from a scape gauge to a standard gauge to facilitate the movement of high speed trains to uplift the rail transport in the country.
He wondered where Railnet will build the new infrastructure with the current developments that are taking place along the line of railway.
He said in Kitwe, Government revoked a permit for a certain organisation which had applied to have the railway line relocated to another area to pave way for the construction of houses.
Mr Lungu said the organisation wanted to shift the railway line on land belonging to Mopani Copper Mines without the consent of the mine.
He said structures are supposed to be built 50 metres away from the railway line and warned that the relevant authority will soon move in to demolish the structures.
Mr Lungu said the project to upgrade the railway infrastructure is an important undertaking which will provide a shorter route to the port of Beira in Mozambique.
He said enough space will be needed for the implementation of the project, whose cost will only be known after conducting feasibility studies.
Mr Lungu urged Kitwe residents to take advantage of the land which has been opened up for development across the Kafue River to build houses.
And Kitwe District Commissioner Chileshe Bweupe, who was in the company of Mr Lungu urged Kitwe residents to acquire land from the local authority unlike building illegally close to the rail line.