The government spent US$1.6 million to hire a Chinese company, Jiangsu Gold Civil Construction, to repair the TAZARA railway line crossing the Chambeshi River in Muchinga province. The government wants the repair works to be completed as soon as possible, according to the Deputy Secretary of Muchinga Province, Chiwele Kondomone, who recently inspected the repair works.
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Kondomone said the suspension of rail service had a significant impact on the flow of goods and services in and out of the Tanzanian port of Dar-Salaam. The Deputy Secretary, accompanied by the Kanchibiya District Commissioner, Chrispin Chilekwa, asked the contractor to ensure that the task is completed before the scheduled August deadline.
Mr Kondomone said the government wants to see the project completed as soon as possible. This will allow the return of freight and passenger trains, which were suspended last year. The project has made significant progress following the arrival at the site of steel components manufactured in South Africa, according to TAZARA Works Manager Sternly Shimishi.
Expected dates for the completion of the repair of the TAZARA railway line
Repair works on the TAZARA railway line crossing the Chambeshi River are expected to be completed on August 30, 2022, according to project consultant Caron Kasumba. The contractor is determined to deliver a quality result by the end of this month, according to Kasumba.
Kasumba confirmed that the works are progressing well and that all technical requirements are being taken seriously. Furthermore, he said that since the arrival of the steel elements which have already been manufactured in South Africa, tremendous progress has been made.
After a freight train hit the steel members in May last year, the TAZARA Bridge at Kanchibiya over the Chambeshi River was damaged. Train movements for passenger and freight trains were discontinued as a result of the development.
It was initially expected that the damaged TAZARA bridge would be repaired by July last month, but that did not materialize.
Tazara Railway is also known as Uhuru Railway or Tanzam Railway. It is located in East Africa and connects the port of Dar es Salaam in eastern Tanzania to the town of Kapiri Mposhi in the central province of Zambia. The single-track railway is 1,860 km long and is operated by the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA).
The railway was built from 1970 to 1975 with support from China. Upon its completion, TAZARA was not only the longest railway in sub-Saharan Africa, but also the largest foreign aid project undertaken by China at the time. It would have cost US$406 million.
In August 2022, the Presidents of Zambia and Tanzania issued a joint statement to launch a new railway revitalization project. This happened during a state visit by Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema to Tanzania. The project in question will be carried out under a public-private partnership and will convert the Tazara railway to standard gauge.
Last name: Tanzania-Zambia Railway
Type: Heavy rail
Length: 1,860 kilometers
Operator: Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA)
New leadership to manage 1,860 km Tanzania-Zambia railway project
The Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) is in the process of acquiring new management to run the railway project profitably.
The China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC), the contractor and consultant for Tanzania Zambia Railway, is to select one of three designs presented by Tanzania on how best to bypass the 1,860 kilometer railway line. CRCC Executive Director and Vice President Mr. Zhenyi Hu said they would ensure to expedite the selection so that TAZARA can be reborn under the new administration. The exact date when the project will be completed is not yet known.
Recently, Tanzania’s Ambassador to China, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahaman Shimbo said talks were at an advanced stage which would see the current management of TAZARA overhauled to make it run smoothly.
TAZARA connects the Southern African regional transport network to East Africa and the rest of the world through the East African seaport of Dar es Salaam. It stretches from the port of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania to the town of Kapiri Mposhi in central Zambia where it is connected to the existing Zambian railway system.
Although operating at a quarter capacity today, in its four decades of existence, TAZARA has transported over 50 million passengers and over 30 million tonnes of cargo.
TAZARA was the first international construction project by a Chinese company and was financed by China to the tune of US$500 million in the 1970s.
Tanzania-Zambia railway to be extended to four countries
The Tanzania-Zambia Railway (Tazara) is yet to be extended to four more countries, including Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi and eastern DR Congo, as well as the Tanzanian port of Bagamoyo, worth of several billion dollars.
So say government officials from Tanzania, China and Zambia who met in Dar es Salaam to discuss the struggling infrastructure link that runs from Dar es Salaam to Kapiri-Mposhi in Zambia.
Rowland Msiska, Zambian Cabinet Secretary, said the plan is part of the China-Africa Cooperation Plan which was discussed at the China-Africa Cooperation Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa, in December 2015. Msiska further stated that the renovation and extension of the railway will be funded by China and he also stated that southern DR Congo is already connected to Tazara via Zambian Railways.
Rwanda, Burundi and eastern DR Congo will be linked by the Seleka-Mpulungu section of Tazara in Zambia where the construction study has already been completed and is only awaiting the launch of funds. Malawi will however be linked by the planned Chipata-Selenje rail link although the study for this link has not yet been completed.
The initiative to plan the connection of Tazara to the mega port of Bagamoyo will be a boost for the country as it will allow major companies in the region to connect to the port and facilitate the shipment of goods. The plans were decided after major infrastructure deterioration was established by China’s Third Railway Survey and Design Institute Group (TSDI), which conducted a survey between June and December 2012.
The Tanzanian government is also working with China on another major project which will involve the construction of Bagamoyo Port, its Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and a 40 km railway line to link Bagamoyo SEZ to the railway line. train from Tazara to Pugu.
Renovation of TAZARA railway line to receive US$1.2 billion boost
The Chinese government has announced its intention to offer approximately US$1.2 billion to the Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) for the rehabilitation of the railway line shared by the two states (Tanzania and Zambia).
Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania Wang Ke said his country is ready to explore ways to upgrade and revamp the TAZARA line once a consensus is reached.
The ambassador noted that the embassy had started talks with the government about the fund, stressing that her country was ready, willing and able to support the renovation, and recalled that the joint efforts of China, Tanzania and Zambia to overcome many difficulties and obstacles were essential to achieve the goal.
In addition to this, TAZARA Deputy Managing Director, Dr. Bertram Kiswaga said that further efforts will go a long way in improving the performance of the railway. The meeting recommended major renovations to the rusting narrow-gauge railway line and approved plans to link Tazara to Tanzania’s multibillion-dollar port of Bagamoyo, as well as to Malawi, DR Congo, Rwanda and Burundi.
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The birth of TAZARA
TAZARA was built as a turnkey project between 1970 and 1975 using the US$500 million interest-free loan from the People’s Republic of China, with commercial operations beginning in July 1976, covering 1,860 kilometers from Dar es Salaam to New Kapiri Mposhi North Manger of Zambia.
The Chinese government provided about US$1 billion in financial support, 50,000 engineers and technicians, and one million tons of materials and equipment despite financial difficulties at the time.
Upon its completion, the TAZARA Railway was the longest railway line in sub-Saharan Africa. It was also the largest foreign aid project undertaken by China at the time.