ICT helps build major rail line

By Gregory Gondwe, Blantyre, Malawi

Mota-Engil, one of the companies contracted by world mining giant Vale Logistics of Brazil to build part of the 906-kilometre-long rail line from Moatize Coal mine to Nacala Port in Mozambique, cutting through Malawi, is using ICT as the pivotal component in this USD1bn project.

The Contracts Manager for the Nacala Railway Project on the Malawi part, Joao Neto, says with the use of ICT, the company will beat its completion deadline, despite a number of major hiccups.

The project, which is the largest to have ever taken place in Malawi, commenced on March 17, 2012 and is expected to run for 27 months and finish by June 16, 2014.

Neto told Biztechafrica that almost everything on the project is using ICT.

“Our concrete batching plant uses a computer system for concrete mixtures, to come up with concrete of different mixes for different uses,” he said.

He said most of the equipment is installed with SAP software, which is developed standard application software for real-time business processing, as well as document management software.

“Machines placing the rail pavement are using GPS; even the graders are controlled by GPS to determine what levels they can grade depending on the specific construction needs,” said Neto.

He also said all the construction vehicles have GPS to control speed and location.

Neto also said all the 3000 identity cards for employees at the construction have computerised chips that control access to all the services of the project including accommodation and canteen facilities.

“We are arranging that time attendance should also be monitored using the cards as well,” he said.

He also explained that all networks for Mota-Engil are linked by a very small aperture terminal (VSAT) while at all places within the camps; there is provision of a free Wi-Fi supplied by the company.

“We also use iris readers,” said Neto who also said their medical facility is all computerised.       

Mota-Engil has been contracted to construct part of rail line from Moatize in Tete province to Nacala Port in Mozambique through Malawi.

The major activities in the project include earthworks, drainage works, access Roads, bridgeworks and rail works.

Neto explained that by August they will start laying of the track and that by December they will have connected to Nkaya and that all earthworks will be done.

“In July 2012, we started earth movement; and pavement rails will be ready by November since we have already started in other areas,” he said.

“At the rate we are going, thanks to ICT, we will beat the deadline and are going to finish in time,” he added.

He explained that in order to cover up for the lost time cause by the strike they are now working over time, and utilising full Saturday and Sundays and national holidays which were initially half days.

“Minor auxiliary works will remain, but by December, we will have trains using the full scale length of the railway,” he said.  

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