Transport Minister Dr Harrison Mwakyembe has instructed the Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority management to come up with a clear plan for rescuing the company, ailing mainly due to poor management.
Dr Mwakyembe made the call yesterday in Dar es Salaam during a meeting with management and employees of TAZARA and Tanzania Railway Workers Union representatives.
“Southern regions and Zambia are not supposed to transport their goods through roads but railways, and if the joint venture is the problem we can end it in order to solve the problem,” said Dr Mwakyembe.
He said which has since 1995 TAZARA changed managing directors eight times, can improve the country’s economy within a short period of time if managed efficiently.
For his part, the Transport Deputy Minister Dr Charles Tizeba called for thorough investigation of TAZARA by the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB).
He requested the minister to allow him to call upon the anti-corruption watchdog to probe TAZARA.
Dr Tizeba also said his ministry shall find a way for the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (SUMATRA) to have power to regulate TAZARA under the joint venture of Tanzania and Zambia.
“Currently SUMATRA has no authority over the joint venture, it is something to be looked into, so that it can fulfill its responsibilities without breaching the terms of the contract between Tanzania and Zambia,” Dr Tizeba stressed.
He said lack of medical insurance among employees and the payment of cash on medical bills create loopholes for corruption.
Erasto Kihwele who is Secretary General of Tanzania Rail Workers Union (TRAWU) said TAZARA employees were yet to be paid their salaries for March and April.
Kihwele added: “Lack of fuel has made TAZARA unable to operate on its own. We need 8.5bn/- in order to purchase fuel and components for six months.”
Kihwele also said TAZARA employees have requested for the formation of new board and the removal of the managing director and his deputy from office.
He said the top bosses had never attended any employee meeting to hear their problems.
“We don’t have a pension scheme, which should ideally be under the National Social Security Fund, so when we retire we end up with nothing.”
For her part a Controller of TAZARA Teresia Mahalagati said the charges on goods transported by the authority are low compared to the transportation cost.
Mahalagati added: “The weighbridge of the authority is causing a big loss because it is not operating properly. Train wagons are overloaded and under-declared, thus denying the authority revenues.”
The deputy managing director of TAZARA Damas Ndumbaro said that he signed the cheque of all employees’ salaries last Thursday, and that it was for the bank to complete the transactions in order for the workers to get their money.
When asked about poor management, Ndumbaro responded: “There can never be a good management under a poor system. But I cannot resign. I need to work for the benefit of TAZARA because so many MD’s have left the office over the years and nothing much has changed.”