China conducts study on Tazara management

China has conducted an intensive study of a new modality of running Tazara, a four-decade-old railway, to suit today’s business environment. 

Tazara was built by the Chinese government in 1970s and stands out as a symbol of long mutual cooperation among the three countries and an icon of Sino-Africa relations.

The Chinese Embassy, Chief Economic and Commercial Representative, Mr Lin Zhiyong, said the Chinese delegation is expected in the country next month for final talks.

“We (Chinese) have done an intensive study on the railway and we have reached a final point of solving the problem,” Mr Lin said.

The economic and commercial representative added: “After some talks in Dar es Salaam, the two head of states (Zambia and Tanzania) will sign the new agreement.”

The talks are geared to solve long management problem of running Tazara which plunged into lost making due to changing of business module.

The 1,860 railway line running from Dar es Salaam to Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia needs a current management overhauled to make it operate smoothly.

At the moment Tazara operates four train a week, two for either side, which include ordinary and express train blocks.

In the last one year, three governments were engaged on talks designed to restore Tazara’s lost glory and put back the railway on track in the big way.

Under the current agreement, the managing director of the Authority must come from the Zambian side; a setup which Tanzania thinks is part of the problem that the railway is facing.

Recently, Tazara received four diesel-electric locomotives and 18 coaches supplied from China valued at 22.4million US dollars. The delivery is expected to increase daily locomotive availability from 12 to 16 and extend the mean distance between failures from 6 015 km to 7 098 km.

The railway said that 10 years ago it ran six trains/week carrying more than 900 000 passengers/year, but the shortage of serviceable stock has brought a drop to four trains/week carrying 455,000 passengers, with delays and breakdowns becoming ‘a common occurrence’.

Due to many years of insufficient recapitalisation, Tazara was suffering from serious capacity constraints, which made it difficult to develop business to sustainable levels despite the abundant availability of large volumes of imports, exports as well as local traffic throughout the year.
Source: Daily News, reported from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
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