BIDS are to be called within the next two months for the privatisation of Zambia Railways, following the approval of a World Bank credit in November to fund the cost of restructuring.

Following the award of concessions, the bank will provide US$27m through the International Development Association, with a grace period of 10 years and a 40-year maturity term. This will be used for redundancy payments and retraining of surplus staff, plus the setting up of new management structures.

The Zambia Privatisation Agency plans to offer long-term vertically-integrated concessions for operation of the copperbelt network between Ndola and Chingola, and the main line linking Sakania and Victoria Falls. The concessionaires will be expected to invest in upgrading the infrastructure and rolling stock, reduce costs and increase revenue. n