The Tanzania Zambia Railways is ailing, but officials believe that all the multi-national transport entity needs are a more serious inputs from the two countries owning stakes in it.
According to the Zambian Minister of Transport and Logistics Frank Tayali, “TAZARA has a strong business case to justify support from any right thinking government!”
Addressing railway workers in Mpika area, Minister Tayali pointed out that the number of trucks crisscrossing between Zambia and Tanzania is overwhelmingly big, indicating the high demand of transport and logistics services between the two countries.
“I have seen the statistics and observed the daily increasing number of trucks crossing the border from Tanzania into Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC),” Tayali maintained.
He also recalled his recent visit to the port of Dar es Salaam where he learned of the exponential growth of freight volumes being registered annually.
“I am thus clearly convinced that the Tanzania Zambia Railways was not only strategic in importance, but also had a much stronger business case.”
The Minister expressed concern that even when there was business waiting for TAZARA railway line, the company had no capacity to move cargo and that is why there were over 2500 trucks plying the expressways on daily basis.
As far as he is concerned, the dependency on trucks to haul heavy cargo was taking drastic toll on the roads.
“There is no right thinking Government that can say it is not worthwhile to revitalise the Tanzania Zambia Railways Authority (TAZARA).”
“There is so much business potential and business sense that we ought to revitalise this mode of transport not only for us to make money as an entity, but also to protect our infrastructure,” said Tayali.
For other observers one of the best solutions was for the Railway Company to find an equity investor to partner with the two Governments in revitalising TAZARA.
The Managing Director of Tanzania Zambia Railways Authority, Engineer Bruno Ching’andu, had earlier on appealed to the Minister, through the TAZARA Council of Ministers, to expedite funding for the revitalisation of the Authority.
He thinks funding for revitalisation was the most sustainable way of resolving the operational capacity constraints for TAZARA.
Constructed as a turnkey project between 1970 and 1975, the Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority was financed through an interest free loan of USD 500 Million from the People’s Republic of China.
It started commercial operations in July 1976 as an integral part of the southern Africa Regional Rail Transport Network.
The railway line measures 1,860 kilometers from the Dar es Salaam harbour in Tanzania, to New Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia.
TAZARA track is designed with a 1067 mm gauge that permits through traffic operations with contiguous railway of Southern Africa.
Equipped with adequate facilities, TAZARA has a designed capacity of shipping 5 million tonnes of freight a year.
The multinational line handles freight imports and exports for Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, DR Congo, the great lakes region, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
However, the construction of Kidatu transhipment Depot has opened and linked new markets of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
The containerised traffic arriving from South Africa as well as imports through Dar es Salaam port can now be easily transhipped at Kidatu by both Tanzania Zambia Railways and Tanzania Railways Corporation (TRC) to other destinations.
The hub serves the Eastern and Central African Precincts as well as the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region countries.