China has pledged to finance the Tanzania-Zambia Railways (Tazara) and extend it to four other countries.
Official from the three governments — China, Tanzania and Zambia — are meeting in Dar es Salaam to put together details of the plan whose proposal include reducing the bloated Tazara workforce, The East African reported.
The plan will include renovating the 1,860 kilometers track and linking Tazara to Tanzania’s new Bagamoyo port and to Malawi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi.
The plan is part of the China-Africa co-operation agenda discussed at the Forum On China-Africa Co-operation in Johannesburg in December 2015, Rowland Msiska, secretary to the Zambia Cabinet said.
“Rwanda, Burundi and Eastern DR Congo will be linked through the Seleka-Mpulungu section of Tazara in Zambia, where the construction study has already been completed and is only awaiting financing,” Bruno Ching’andu, Tazara CEO, told the East African.
The Citizen reported that China will take over the management and operation of the railway line in a privatization arrangement that has been termed by the Tanzanian government as turn-around strategy.
Tanzania and Zambia would also review their domestic laws to provide for preferential provisions in the running of Tazara, with a view to attracting more private players.
It is the only railway line in Africa that links three economic blocs, including the East African Community, COMESA and SADC, that serves more than 600 million people or half of the continent.
Volume of cargo transported on the line has bee dropping over the years despite increased throughput cargo at the Dar es Salaam port.
“The throughput cargo at Dar port increased from six million metric tonnes in 2006 to about 15 million metric tonnes in 2015 and yet the share of TAZARA has decreased from 601,229 metric tonnes in fiscal year 2005/2006 to just 87,860 tonnes in 2014/2015,” Tanzania’s Chief Secretary, Ambassador John Kijazi, told Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.