Tanzania and Zambia are planning a law review to accommodate private investors in the running of their joint railway company, Tazara.
Tazara, which runs from Dar es Salaam to Kapiri-Mposhi in Zambia, was built in the 1970s with Chinese aid.
However it has suffered a cash crunch in recent times, bringing it almost to a halt.
Dar es Salaam said a review of the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority Act would allow private investors to buy shares in the railway and help boost efficiency.
“We are eager to improve operations so as to boost trade between Tanzania and Zambia, the Great Lakes region and Southern Africa,” said deputy Minister for Works, Transport and Communications Atashasta Nditiye.
In 2016, Tanzania, Zambia and China unveiled a plan to extend the railway to the planned Bagamoyo port — some 75km from Dar es Salaam.
The plan is awaiting approval by the Cabinet, and includes major renovations of the old narrow gauge railway line and plans to link it to Malawi, Rwanda and Burundi.
Southern DRC is already connected to the line through Zambia Railways.
Tazara is the region’s longest railway line, linking the East African Community, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, and the Southern African Development Community three blocs, with a market of more than 600 million people.
“When you have a reliable railway, trade between countries becomes easier and more efficient; it reduces delays and congestion on the roads,” said Mr Nditiye.
The minister said that Dar es Salaam is seeking to increase trade volumes with neighbouring countries by developing key infrastructure to facilitate movement of people and cargo.
The director–general of Tanzania Ports Authority Deusdedit Kakoko, said improved efficiency at the port would attract back customers who fled in favour of other ports “due to different challenges, including security and formalities.”
Mr Kakoko visited Zambia, Malawi, DRC, Rwanda, Uganda and the Comoros to sell the country as a transport hub.
“Tanzania through TPA aims at building a strong economic belt to improve the country’s economy through trade,” said Mr Kakoko.
The Business Congolese International president Sumaili Edouard, said the Tanzanian government had shown its willingness to address the concerns of port users.
“Among our challenges were costs and delays, which are being addressed,” said Mr Edouard.
Tanzania wants the Dar es Salaam port to become a cargo hub. With a total quay length of 2,600 metres, the port handles over 16 million tonnes of cargo annually.
“Upon completion of the ongoing expansion, the Dar es Salaam port will have the capacity to handle up to 30 million tonnes annually,” said acting port manager Freddy Liundi.