Dar to spend $330m on rail upgrade

Saturday March 30 2013

As part of its railway upgrade project, the government through Tazara has secured $39 million from China to buy six new locomotives, 90 new wagons and spare parts, as well as renovate nine locomotive engines. Photo/FILE

Tanzania is to spend $330 million to upgrade its railway network in order to make it compatible with those across Central and Southern Africa.

The venture involves track repair and upgrades, including changing the national network to standard gauge.

The move follows a tripartite agreement to harmonise operations between the Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority (Tazara), Zambia Railways Ltd and Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer Du Congo Sarl of the Democratic Republic of Congo — the national railway operators for Tanzania, Zambia and the DRC respectively.

The deal, signed recently, is expected to facilitate smooth and seamless transportation of goods and passengers in the three states.

Harrison Mwakyembe, Tanzania’s Minister of Transport, said some Tsh6 billion ($3.7 million) had so far been spent on renovating train carriages and railway infrastructure for Tanzania Railways Ltd.

The government has ordered 274 new passenger wagons, 22 locomotives, 25 wagons and 34 rolling stock brakes (brake vans), which are expected in the country before June this year.


According to Mr Mwakyembe, the government through Tazara has also secured $39 million from China to buy six new locomotives, 90 new wagons and spare parts, as well as renovate nine locomotive engines.

The central line running westwards from Dar es Salaam through Dodoma will be improved substantially this year. The upgraded Tanzanian central line on standard gauge is expected to carry 35 million tonnes of freight annually to Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and eastern DRC.

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Damas Ndumbaro, acting managing director of Tazara, said the acquisition of new locomotives and other measures by management are expected to increase the tonnage of cargo that it hauls.

Dr Ndumbaro said the government of Zambia is providing the $32 million needed to keep the “Uhuru” rail afloat.

Tazara operates in two countries — Zambia and Tanzania — both of which have a regional manager working on set performance benchmarks. Tanzania hosts the railway authority’s headquarters.

READ: Tazara rail to expand

Each regional manager has been tasked with the responsibility of increasing tonnage from 30,000 to 80,000 tonnes.

The railway line to connect Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania is now under construction.

Charles Tizeba, Deputy Minister for Transport, said the Dar es Salaam-Isaka-Kigali/Keza-Gitega-Musongoti railway project, which is estimated to cost $5.2 billion, will take four years to complete and is expected to lower Rwanda and Burundi’s transport costs.

Rwanda and Burundi have had to bear high transport costs when ferrying goods from the ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam, which has increased the cost of doing business in the two countries.

The new railway line is also expected to reduce the time it takes to transport cargo from Dar es Salaam. Use of the road takes four days, while the railway will take just two days.

Tanzania is currently seeking $13.3 billion to finance infrastructure projects. These projects include the rehabilitation of the railway line from Dar es Salaam to Tabora as well as the Kaliua-Mpanda line to Kasanga port on Lake Tanganyika.