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We now count on TAZARA workers to get things done

10th July 2014
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Editorial Cartoon

Cleaning up coal When Ian Smith of the then Southern Rhodesia, the present Zimbabwe, proclaimed the Unilateral Declaration of Independence in November 1965, the whole political scene in the Central and Eastern Africa changed.

The former British colony was then part of the Federation of Northern and Southern Rhodesia, under which the two countries cooperated very well in various fields, including communication. Virtually all the foreign trade of Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) was hauled through the railway linking the two countries.

But with UDI Zambia was now in a quandary, as it could no longer use the railway it shared with its Southern neighbour. As such, Zambia had to look north to Tanzania, then the cradle of the liberation struggle in Southern Africa.

In the first years, Tanzania assisted Zambia to haul its goods by road stretching from Dar es Salaam through the Tunduma border that was so rough that it was christened the ‘Hell Run’.

This is partly why the two governments of Zambia and Tanzania mooted the idea of constructing a railway between them. This route helped the former avoid dependence on the route passing through Rhodesia on which the world had imposed economic sanctions.

Thus the idea of constructing the railway linking Zambia and Tanzania was mooted. After searching for financiers throughout the world, finally China took up the task and handed over the 1900-km Uhuru railway, as it came to be known, from Dar es Salaam to Kapiri Mposhi, in 1977.

Its operations were vested in the Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA). But for several years now they have deteriorated for one reason or another, including its aged rolling stock.

It is good news to hear that Tanzania and Zambia governments have chipped in to save the situation and it is our hope that with the promised financial injection, also will be the workers’ commitment to ensure it happens. Both governments have pledged USD80m (about 131.2bn/-) to improve operations of TAZARA in the next 12 months.

The TAZARA Council of Ministers last Friday resolved to put up the funds at a meeting held in Lusaka, Zambia. This follows several months of low productivity and disruption of operations caused by several factors.

It is good to learn that some 15.1 billion/= will be disbursed immediately to cater for two months’ salary arrears of employees and some working capital.

We hail this decision and hope it rebuilds the morale of the railway workforce to tackle with more commitment the task of improving operations. The ministers surely made the right decision for human resources are the most important aspects of running TAZARA.

This is true for any entity, but quite often many managers forget that to run their institutions smoothly they have to motivate their staff. Supplying them with enough working gear is essential in that they cannot perform without them. But giving them what they deserve after sweating for a whole month is perhaps more important in ensuring that they continue to deliver efficiently.

All said, we hope that this new injection of funds into TAZARA will make workers more productive for there will be no excuse for shoddy work. 

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN