Zambia railways and the economic development of Zambia,1967-1991

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Kapanda, Beatrice
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The University of Zambia
The study has examined the history of Zambia Railways (ZR), its importance and performance in the economic development of Zambia from 1967-1991. It also examined the challenges that ZR faced during the same period. Historically, railway transport played a vital role in the economic activities of post-independence Zambia. Its capacity to transport goods in bulk has had a profound appeal especially in the major economic sectors of the country both locally and in foreign trade. Despite its crucial role in Zambia’s economic activities little is known about ZR’s importance and performance in the major economic sectors of Zambia. This has created a gap in the railway historiography of Zambia which this study attempts to fill. The study focused on the freight traffic as this is the major facility offered by ZR. Both primary and secondary sources comprising numerical and textual data were used in achieving the objectives. Much of the information on which the study is based was derived from archival research, primarily in the ZR Archive in Kabwe, the National Archives of Zambia in Lusaka, and the United National Independence Party (UNIP) Archives in Lusaka, Zambia Consolidated Copper Mine (ZCCM) Archives in Ndola and Central Statistical Office in Lusaka The findings of the study are that at the inception of ZR in 1967, the UNIP government made substantial investments in order to sustain it and improve its efficiency. The study argues that ZR’s performance both locally and externally showed a steady rise in the first decade of its operations, but began to decline after 1976. The decline was mainly attributed to the world economic depression of the mid-1970s, which also affected ZR’s major customers. Thus, the low production in the major economic activities of Zambia especially the mining sector which largely affected ZR’s freight performance. The x downward trend continued well up to the 1991. ZR however, continued to dominate in the external trade transport sector, even in the face of heightened challenges from the road transport sector.
Railway transport--Post independence--Zambia , Railway transport--Economic --Zambia