A comparative study of access to railways in Zambia relative to road transport

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Mwila, Fred
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University of Zambia
Rail transport plays a critical role in the development of any country. With its inherent advantage of being bulk carrier, safer and cheaper, rail transport is an important cog in intermodal transportation. It is also more environmentally friendly, has less congestion and has a better fuel efficiency than other modes of transport. A poorly utilised railway adversely affects transport system and leads to decreased contribution to the country’s economy. The aim of the study was to determine the accessibility of railway transport in Zambia relative to the road and to come up with a framework that would attract heavy and bulk transport to the rail. To attain this objective, the comparative position of the rail relative to the road and the causal factors were analysed. In order to carry out this research, preliminary interviews, questionnaires and case studies methods were used in addition to detailed literature review. The results revealed that rail transport is poorly used in Zambia. The railways carried a paltry 8.0% of the cargo transported by the road and rail in 2015. The study also revealed that in all categories of exports, imports, transit and local traffic, the road moved at least 83.0% of the cargo moved by rail and road. The same was the case when cargo was classified by type of traffic with the road moving at least 78.0% of the available traffic. This is despite more than 50.0% of the traffic being made up of heavy and bulk traffic which should traditionally be moved by the rail. Seventy-three percent (73.0%) of respondents think that the road is the best transport in Zambia. Poor accessibility to the railways caused by inter alia, bad rail infrastructure and equipment, unfavourable government policies, poor management of the railways, very low speeds and limited routes was one of the major reasons for the under performance of the railways in Zambia. A framework aimed at mitigating these causal factors was proposed with a view of improving access to the rail.
Master of Engineering in Project Management
railroads-Zambia , railroads