Turkish, Portuguese firms win bid to construct Tanzania’s SGR

Monday February 6 2017

A standard gauge railway overpass under construction at Taru next to the Nairobi-Mombasa Highway. PHOTO | FILE

A standard gauge railway overpass under construction at Taru in Kenya. A joint venture between a Turkish and a Portuguese firm has won a tender for construction of 205 kilometres of Tanzania’s SGR. PHOTO | FILE 

By CHABI BARASA

A joint venture between a Turkish and a Portuguese firm has won a tender for construction of 205 kilometres of Tanzania’s standard gauge railway, part of the 1,216km stretch that will eventually link Dar es Salaam with the rest of the country as well as with Rwanda and Burundi.

The project, to be constructed at a total cost of $1.215 billion, will be undertaken by Yapi Merkez Insaat Ve Sanayi (Turkey) and Mota-Engil, Engenharie and Construcao Africa, SA (Portugal).

Works, Transport and Communication Minister Makame Mbarawa said the government had already set aside $500 million dollars for the project, saying it now expects to secure soft loans from development partners and financial institutions for implementation of the plan.

Railway Assets Holding Company (RAHCO) acting director-general Masanja Kadogosa said the Turkish and Portuguese firms beat 39 other bidders to win the tender after meeting both technical and financial criteria for implementation of the project, which will take two and-a-half years.

He said local experts visited projects implemented by the consortium in Turkey, Ethiopia, Mozambique and South Africa.

Mr Kadogosa said the 160 km/hour SGR will handle 17 million tonnes per annum and will run parallel to the existing central railway line built 112 years ago by the German colonialists. He said the consortium will undertake the stretch linking the commercial capital Dar es Salaam to Morogoro.

He said tenders for the remaining parts of the SGR project will be opened in April this year. They include the 336km line linking Morogoro and Makutupora, Makutupora-Tabora (294 km), Tabora-Isaka (133 km) and Isaka-Mwanza (248 km).

Announcement of the tender winners confirms earlier report in The EastAfrican that said a Turkish firm was in the lead to get the contract, beating out Chinese firms that were earlier tipped to secure the deal.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently visited Tanzania and President John Magufuli hinted that a Turkish firm was likely to win the tender.

President Magufuli used the opportunity to ask for a loan from Turkey’s state-owned Export Credit Bank (Eximbank) to help finance a stretch of the SGR.

Tanzania wants to construct a 2,561 km standard gauge railway connecting its main port of Dar es Salaam to landlocked neighbours Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Rwanda and Uganda.