Government yesterday unveiled in the National Assembly plans to spend 104bn/- this financial year to strengthen and improve the Tanzania Railways Limited (TRL), including repair of eight train engines.
Tabling his ministry’s budget estimates of 317,710,481,000/- for the 2012/2013 financial year, the Transport Minister Dr Harrison Mwakyembe said the money will be used to implement various projects, including preliminary payments for purchasing 13 new train engines, 22 coaches, 274 wagons and 34 wagon brakes.
The money will also be used to repair 125 wagons and to rehabilitate Tabora and Dar es Salaam workshops.
“Out of the 104bn/-, a total of 18bn/- will be used to pay contractual debts to the International Finance Corporation (IFC), RITES, RVR of Uganda and other companies TRL owes,” he said.
He said if the money is disbursed timely it will enable TRL to implement its plans on time and provide the expected services.
The financial empowerment, the minister said, will increase the number of train passengers from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma to three per week by the end of the year and the resumption of the Mwanza services before year end.
Meanwhile, Dr Mwakyembe disclosed that the government has banned the charging of train fares to children under seven years and instructed the TRL management to come up with a proper system of selling tickets at railway stations.
“The government also directs TRL to abandon the system of charging baggage based on weight, a criterion used in air transport,” he said.
He said that the weight of baggage for train passengers should be increased based on the real situation of people using railway transport and the capacity of trains.
These changes, according to the minister, should be implemented effective October 1 this year to provide TRL with sufficient time for the changes.
In another development, Dr Mwakyembe has said that the use of railway transport in Dar es Salaam to reduce congestion on its roads will help over 30,000 passengers per day.
Train services will be provided between the Dar es Salaam Railway Station and Ubungo Maziwa (12km) and between Mwakanga and Kurasini via Dar es Station (34.5km).
He said 4.75bn/- has been set aside for rehabilitation of the Dar Railway Station-Ubungo Maziwa rail track, three train engines and 14 coaches. Repair work has already started and will be completed in October.
The minister said two trains, one from Dar es Salaam Raiwaly Station and the other from Ubungo Maziwa will ply the route with stops at Kamata, Buguruni kwa Mnyamani, Tabata Matumbi, Mabibo and Ubungo Maziwa.
“Each train will have six coaches with a capacity of carrying 1,000 passengers. This plan will have eight runs in the morning and eight in the evening during peak hours,” he said.
According to the minister, it is estimated that the two trains will transport 16,000 people per day.
He said that the National Institute of Transport has allocated four acres for a car parking project at Ubungo, for those boarding the trains to avoid the jam as they rush to work in the morning.
“This will enable people from Kibaha, Kiluvya, Mbezi and Kimara heading to the city centre to park their vehicles at Ubungo and board the train to the Dar es Salaam Railway Station,” the minister explained.
For the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority line, the minister said train services will be provided between Dar Station, Kwa Fundi Umeme, Yombo, Kwa Limboa, Lumo, Kigilagila, Kitunda Road, Kipunguni B, Moshi Bar, Majohe, Magnus Secondary School, Mwakanga, Chimwaga and Maputo, among others with roughly 20,000 people using the route per day.
The chair of the Parliamentary Committee for Infrastructure Peter Serukamba said that the government had good plans of building railway networks in the country, maintaining that efforts should be directed at strengthening existing ones.