Experts – Allow Tazara to Attract Private Investors

The Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (Tazara) should be restructured to cope with rapid changes, economists say.

That should involve amending the Tazara Act of 1995 and drawing up new policies and regulations to enable the private sector to pour financial resources into the organisation.

Prof Haji Semboja of the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) told The Citizen that such changes would make Tazara efficient and effective.

Dr Ulingeta Mbamba, also of the UDSM, said Tazara’s role in Tanzania’s process towards industrialisation would depend on the quality of its management, which ought to be visionary and results-oriented. “Tazara requires management that can timely and safely deliver goods to customers; the leadership that can end workers’ endless strikes.”

Prof Honest Ngowi of Mzumbe University said Tazara leadership should be capable of attracting huge investment to meet the new demand to revamp railway into a standard gauge (SG).

Since investing in railway is expensive, Tanzania Private Sector Foundation executive director Godfrey Simbeye proposes that the private sector be involved in funding the project. “We need to be involved in all efforts to transform country’s economy as other countries do. No government can do it alone.”

The remarks come at a time when Tazara is commemorating its 40th anniversary. The management has promised to improve efficiency.

During the 2016/17 financial year Tazara has projected to increase cargo transport to 380,000 tonnes from 130,000 tonnes the previous year. It handled only 88,000 tonnes in 2014/15.

Tazara managing director Bruno Ching’andu said the authority’s management had been reorganised solve frequent staff strikes over salary payments. He said salary arrears had been cleared.

He said freight transportation speed has been improved and that customer’s timeframe for delivery of consignments had been reduced.

According to him, nowadays it takes 10 days to move goods from Dar es Salaam to Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo instead of the previous 40 days.

“Improved transportation speed and security to consignments have significantly reduced losses of goods on transit hence customer credibility to Tazara has improved.”

Tazara has also purchased 10 locomotives, shunted four others and that 40 wagons are repaired in Dar es Salaam and Mpika in Zambia.

He said management was comfortable that customers in Malawi, DR Congo and Zambia have started enjoying improved services. “These are important partners share about 3 million tonnes out of the total 15 million tonnes of cargo imported through the Dar es Salaam Port annually.”

However, Prof Ngowi believes that after revamping Tazara to the SG, quality locomotives and wagons should be bought and workers’ welfare improved. “Customers will automatically flow to Tazara after improving services and setting affordable tariffs. Customers will weigh whether they have to use railways or roads by considering costs and reliability.”

Mr Simbeye said without robust infrastructure it would be impossible for society to industrialise.

He strongly supports Tazara’s programme of improving efficiency to facilitate smooth movement of raw materials to feed factories in Tanzania.

Dr Mbamba said Tazara is also supposed to urgently deliver goods to manufacturing companies and accordingly send finished products to transporting centres ready for reaching markets.

According to him, both Tanzania and Zambia should back the Chinese government’s initiative of injecting funds for renovating the railway infrastructure to enable Tanzania to realise its dream of becoming a middle economy in 2025.

Source: The Citizen

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