Make optimal use of existing railway line – Japan

The Japanese Ambassador to Tanzania, Mr Masaki Okada, has advised on making optimal use of the existing railway line gauge in the country’s Central railway line before going for the new standard gauge system.

Ambassador Okada told the ‘Daily News’ in an interview that Tanzania could still make maximum and efficient use of the existing railway gauge through major rehabilitation of the line and improved efficiency in the management.

He said Japan was interested in investing in Tanzania’s railway network and initial procedures were underway.

Tanzania can still make maximum and efficient use of the existing railway gauge before embarking on the new standard gauge system only if its capacity is increased, a Japanese Ambassador to Tanzania, Mr Masaki Okada has said.

“The government of Japan is interested to invest in Tanzania’s railway network and this month some experts from TOSHIBA are expected to survey the central line and come up with scientific advice on the improvement of the railway,” Ambassador Okada told the ‘Daily News’ in an interview.

TOSHIBA is a Japanese multinational engineering and electronic conglomerate corporation.

Ambassador Okada said that Japan used a railway gauge system similar to the one used in Tanzania’s central railway and was performing efficiently.

He said the railway line in Japan ferries heavy cargo and has the speed between 100-240 kilometres per hour.

In March, this year, a team of Japanese consultants submitted to the Ministry of Transport a report on the Comprehensive Transport and Trade System Development Master Plan on building an integrated Freight Transport Network.

According to the report, the standard gauge will be required when demand exceed the capacity of the rehabilitated metre gauge track possibly after 2030.

Repair and rehabilitation could be short term strategy while longer trains, higher powered locomotives and more block trains in the midterm and network expansion in the long term strategies, he said.

“The immediate conversion to standard gauge track is not recommended because the existing railway cannot suspend its operation and the present bridges not usable,” the report states.

In the efforts to decongest the Dar es Salaam city, Ambassador Okada said the government of Japan was interested to support Tanzania in the rehabilitation and establishment of commuter trains.

While attending the fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) scheduled for June 1 through June 3, 2013, President Jakaya Kikwete visited Toshiba Science Museum where he was briefed on the company’s technological advancement in railway, renewable energy and electronics fields.

Toshiba Vice-President Hideo Kitamura said the company was capable of dealing with the problem of traffic jams in Tanzanian cities through development of modern railway systems and locomotives.

Tabling the 2013/14 budget estimates in Dodoma last week, Transport Minister, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe said Tanzania Railway Limited (TRL) ferried 198,024 tonnes in 2012, 24.8 per cent lower compared to 267,008 of the corresponding year.

Similarly, TRL ferried 505,223 passengers, which is 2.7 per cent down in the period under review compared to 519,036 in the previous year.

He said the decline in cargo and passengers was contributed by insufficient as well as depreciation of the locomotives and wagons.

The minister said lack of fund and equipment as well as destruction of railway lines also contributed to problems in the running of the railway subsector.
Source: The Daily News, reported by Sebastian Mrindoko in Dar es Salaam
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