Blantyre, Central East African Railways (CEAR) has described this year’s (2019’s) second quarter as a mixed bag in railway transport business with the amount of cargo it transports reduced while the number of passengers has increased during the period.
CEAR’s Finance Manager, Christina Chithila was briefing journalists in Blantyre on Wednesday on the progress their company has made for the past three months.
She said for the past three months of April, May and June, the company has registered a decrease in the transportation of goods while the number of people boarding the train has increased.
Chithila said the company has transported 104,000 tonnes of goods comparing to 115,000 tonnes which the company transported in 2018 in the same period.
The number of passengers has increased in this quarter from 62,314 in 2018 to 74,208 this second quarter of 2019 against our projection of 56,000 in our Limbe-Balaka-Nayuchi route.
This is due to efficiency of the transport because previously, it was taking 12 hours from Limbe to Nayuchi but now it takes six hours only. Above all we have new trains.
We have experienced cases where customers have been cancelling businesses at the eleventh hour. The decrease in cargo is due to some economic problems the country is going through.
However, we hope to have more cargo business during the third and fourth quarters of 2019. It has been a trend all along, that people always transport goods in these quarters due to different reasons such as farming, said Chithila.
She has since expressed hope that the company is likely to compensate cargo business that it has lost in the second quarter in the two quarters coming ahead.
At the same time, the debt of the company continues to rise day in day out. We have borrowed $70 million for rehabilitation of Mkaya-Mchinji Railway Line and so far, we have used half of it.
Once completed, the railway line will facilitate business between Malawi and Zambia because of late we have noticed that there is potential business from Zambia. The rehabilitation work will be finalized by March, 2020, added the CEAR Finance Manager.
The company is expecting to transport 588,000 tonnes of goods in the transport business by the end of 2019, according to Chithila.
Source: MANA Online