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Rail transport set to cut import cost

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Expectations are high that cost of transport for strategic goods and commodities from the port of Beira into the country would be reduced once rehabilitation of the rail line connecting Malawi to the port is complete.

Minister of Transport, Sidik Mia, said the country is expected to save three dollars per tonne using the rail line as currently, the country spends $10 for each tonne ferrying goods from the port using roads.

He said this when he toured a section of the line between Limbe and Luchenza which is being rehabilitated by the Central and East African Railways (Cear).

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Mia said Lilongwe has already engaged Maputo on the same and the government expects the line to be operational by 2022.

“We want to reduce cost of transport so that our farmers and traders get maximum profits not hindered by transport costs, and that imports become cheaper.

“I am impressed with the progress on this section and of course, rehabilitation works also being done in Nsanje coming all the way up,” Mia said.

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Cear Project Manager, Chrispine Kapalamula, said the work on the site was stalled due to the Covid-19 pandemic and rampant vandalism.

“We will spend $20 million on the rehabilitation of the section that we are working on. We expect to complete the work next year but it will depend on the work force because we had to cut the number due to the prevailing pandemic,” Kapalamula said.

According to the National Transport Master Plan, it is estimated that it would cost at least $3 billion to build the entire rail network infrastructure in Malawi from scratch.

A recent report by a local shipping firm Fortress Business and Logistics Consult indicated that imports and exports for Malawi through the ports of Beira and Nacala in Mozambique decreased by 13 percent in the months of April and May.

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