Dar, Lusaka vow to run Tazara commercially

Tanzania and Zambia are now pushing for speeding up amendment of law to enable Tazara, a railway line they jointly own, run commercially.

A council of ministers for Tazara which met in Dar es Salaam on Saturday directed Board of Directors of the authority to expedite the process to amend the law governing operation of the line and have the draft changes submitted to Chairperson of the council by the end of this month.

“We have noted that an attempt to review the TAZARA Act of 1995 in order to make the Authority more businessoriented has been made and urge the Board of Directors to speed up the process and have draft changes to the Act in place and submitted to the Chairperson of the Council by the end of December 2014,” reads in part a communique of the meeting.

Tazara railway line linking the Dar es Salaam port with the town of Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia’s Central Province, was constructed under Chinese financial and technical support in 1970s to help landlocked Zambia break free from economic dependence on Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa, both of which were ruled by white-minority governments.

The 1,860 km (1,160 miles) long railway line which played a big role in the liberation struggle for independence in southern Africa, has for years suffered poor management, lack of wagons and locomotives, unreliable timetables and problems with track maintenance.

The joint owners have agreed to inject 25 million US dollars to the authority after the board of directors draw up a comprehensive and bankable business plan that will map out the future of the railway line.

The decision on the new funding came after the owners managed to provide six million US dollars only out of 80 million US dollars they had agreed to provide to re-capitalize the line.

“We have reviewed the progress in the implementation of the resolution of the Council at the last meeting in July 2014 where we agreed to provide funding of USD80 million for re-capitalisation and working capital requirements and do appreciate that so far the shareholders have released about USD6 million, which has been applied on paying salaries in both countries.

“However, the Board of Directors has been directed to draw up a comprehensive and bankable business plan, by the end of January 2015 that would clearly map the future and ensure that the Authority becomes selfsustaining going forward.

“In this regard, the Council resolves to immediately inject not less than USD25 million into the Authority, subject to an acceptable and bankable business plan being in place.

The council of ministers noted the falling performance of the railway line to record low levels of less than 300,000 tons of freight per year in the recent past from the peak of 1.2m tonnes per year in the late 1980s.

They agreed that the situation called for immediate remedial measures to resuscitate the company and save it from total collapse, the communique said.
Source: Daily News, reported from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
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