Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Zambia and Tanzania commit to future of TAZARA Railways

The Tanzanian and Zambian governments have agreed to inject a further US$80 million in the TAZARA railway line, which is currently also receiving added support from China. The line was constructed some 40 years ago to link Zambia with a reliable rail link to the port of Dar es Salaam. The option through Apartheid South Africa at the time was not viable.

The decision was reportedly reached at a meeting of ministerial delegations, with some US$9 million disbursed immediately to pay for salaries and other operational expenses.

The railway, almost from the start, was dogged with technical issues, poor management, financial losses and a series of never ending labour disputes, but has survived against all odds.

Railway infrastructure developments are high on the agenda of the day in Eastern Afric,a with several projects being undertaken, like the Standard Gauge Railway from Mombasa via Nairobi and Kampala to Kigali, LAPSSET from the port of Lamu to Juba and Addis Ababa and plans in Tanzania to rehabilitate the Central Rail-line, with plans also on the table to link the port of Tanga with Musoma on Lake Victoria.

TAZARA links Dar es Salaam with parts of Tanzania otherwise only accessible by air due to the often poor road network, and still forms a key import and export axis for Zambia.

The Chinese government has in recent months made firm commitments to assist in the upgrade and refurbishment of the line and rolling stock, giving hope for rail users, that together with the financial input by the two governments, the railway will in due course return to full operations, cut down on journey time and add much needed capacity.


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