The Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) has announced the acquisition of six new diesel electric locomotives from China and the recommissioning of two out of four heavy-duty gantry cranes during the month of November, a major boost for its operations.
According to a press statement availed to The Guardian yesterday, the two projects mark significant progress and a major step towards completion of capacity building projects under the 14th Protocol of Economic and Technical Co-operation (14th Protocol) which was signed by the governments of China, Tanzania and Zambia in December 2009.
The statement said all projects under the 14th Protocol were originally scheduled for completion by end of 2011, but encountered difficulties that caused delays.
The difficulties had since been addressed and overcome through collective efforts on the part of Tazara, the projects’ implementing agents of China and the three governments, paving way for their conclusion.
“We are delighted to be on the last lap to the completion of all the projects under the 14th Protocol, even as we continue to face some challenges,” TAZARA managing director Akashambatwa Mbikusita-Lewanika said.
The MD said that TAZARA’s over-stretched financial situation was making it difficult to meet some of the expenditures related to the projects, such as port charges and commissioning aspects requiring to be paid for locally.
“But we are determined to meet these obligations, and have been soliciting the understanding and assistance we need from various parties,” he said.
Meanwhile, the statement said, the six 3000-horsepower DE locomotives which have been manufactured in China under licence from General Electric Company of the United States, had already been cleared from the port of Dar es Salaam and transferred to the Tazara workshops where they were awaiting final release and hand-over from the Chinese suppliers.
The six locomotives are expected to enhance the railway line's motive power and reverse the declining performance that had been witnessed in past years.
In another development, two gantry cranes, each based in Dar es Salaam and Kapiri Mposhi, which had not been operational for many years have now been rehabilitated and recommissioned, leaving the Kasama and Makambako-based ones to be commissioned within the coming four months.
The statement said this will uplift container loading and offloading activities at the two ends of the line, further promising the revival of container transport throughout the line once the other two gantry cranes at Makambako and Kasama are fully rehabilitated.