Tanzania needs nearly $950 million to improve the country’s railway network under a 10-year transport sector investment plan.
A consulting company is already working on the project’s feasibility study and master plan, in line with the East Africa Railway Master Plan.
Minister for Infrastructure Development Dr Shukuru Kawambwa said the master plan is to be submitted to the government by the end of August.
The plan has two phases: The first , started in the 2007/08 financial year, will run till to 2011/12.
The second phase will start in the 2012/13 financial year and end in 2016/17.
The plan also involves a feasibility study for a railway link Mtwara to Lindi, Mchuchuma and Liganga,” said Dr Kwambwa. Another feasibility study will be done for a railway line that will link Isaka to Kigali, in Rwanda and Bujumbura in Burundi.
Tanzania is home to two strategically positioned rail networks — the Tanzania Railways Ltd (TRL) and the Tanzania-Zambia Railways Authority (Tazara) — which can be extended to link the port of Dar es Salaam with the Central and Southern African countries of Zambia, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi and DR Congo.
The International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, last September signed an agreement that will help connect regional markets in East Africa by financing railways linking Tanzania with six neighbouring countries.
This will reduce costs and delivery times for exports, improve the flow of goods to the interior, and make travelling more reliable for around 600,000 passengers a year.
IFC’s proposed $44 million loan will strengthen this network and enhance trade flows to the neighbouring landlocked countries of Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda, as well as the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“Rehabilitating and extending the rail network will significantly improve business prospects for Tanzania and East Africa,” said Rashad Kaldany, IFC director for infrastructure.
“As the only lender to this project, IFC plays a critical role in addressing the lack of reliable and affordable infrastructure, one of the biggest development challenges in Africa today.”
New mining projects being planned in the country will also benefit from the project through more efficient and competitive transportation of imports and exports.
Consignments transported from the mines will help maximise the two-way flow of cargo to and from Dar es Salaam.
The Tanzania Railways Ltd is a concession company led by Rites of India and the government of Tanzania through Reli Asset Holding Company.
Since March 2006, it has held a 25-year operating concession for the country’s railway network.
The total cost of the project for rehabilitation, operation, and maintenance of Tanzania Railways is estimated at $111 million for the first five years. On the other hand, Tazara is an integral part of the Southern Africa Regional Rail Transport Network.
It is a rail link, approximately 1,860km long, from the port of Dar es Salaam to New Kapiri Mposhi, 1,400m above sea level in Zambia.
It was constructed as a turnkey project between 1970 and 1975.
The project was financed through an interest-free loan of $500 million from the Peoples’ Republic of China and started commercial operations in July 1976.
Tazara’s construction was politically motivated to serve landlocked Zambia as an alternative route to apartheid-controlled Rhodesia (modern day Zimbabwe) and South Africa.