The Minister for Works, Transport and Communication, Professor Makame Mbarawa disclosed to this newspaper late this week that the government would soon sign a memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the project.
The process is part of huge government efforts for revamping of infrastructure and consolidating the national market and regional integration efforts, where neighbouring Kenya is also revamping its key Mombasa-Kisumu railway line to standard gauge.
However, the minister fell short of disclosing the main contractor for the first 200km section, saying the state procurement entity would soon avail the selected bidder for the said rail stretch.
“The process for naming the winner is already in the final stages,” he said, noting that once the process was over the company picked to construct the section will be made known to the public.
He was speaking at the 32nd graduation ceremony at the National Institute of Transport in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
Last week, while welcoming the Turkish President Recep Tayep Erdogan, President John Magufuli appealed to the Turkish government to assist in the construction of a 400km stretch to standard gauge via soft loans and technical assistance when the project takes off.
The president said after bilateral talks with his Turkish counterpart that Turkey would participate in the construction of a 400 kilometres portion of the facility.
The much awaited standard gauge railway construction aims at improving transport links with neighbouring Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi as well as the Congo.
When fully implemented the project would cover a stretch of nearly 1,300km from Dar es Salaam to Tabora and onward to Isaka, which then links with Rwanda, and Mwanza.
Initially, China was slated to be taking up the whole project via a consortium of companies and pledged $7.6 billion for the project.
Dr Magufuli did not speak about other participating states in the project, while providing an impression that it would be set out with different bilateral partners for specific sections of the project.
Prof. Mbarawa said railway reconstruction would allow trains using the facility to cruise at a speed of 160 kilometers per hour.
“We are already creating vast employment opportunities with the upcoming construction to standard gauge railway line,” he said, urging enterprises to seek out portion of the work to be extended to the public.
He said the transport sector employs a large number of people whose abilities should help to speed up the project.
With the sectors contributing 4.4 percent of the Gross National Product (GDP), the coming railway line will further boost economic growth and improve people’s lives.
The minister also spoke of government plans to review legislation covering the sector, to set up a Logistics and Transport Board.
Once it has been established the board will play the role of a watchdog for professionalism in the sector, including registering all practicing professionals, comparing the planned board with the National Board for Materials Management (NBMM) and the National Board for Accountants and Auditors (NBAA), which shows the relevance of a Logistics and Transport Board.
The board will enable local professionals in the field to be recognized when applying for jobs abroad, he stated, urging university graduates in that field to ensure they utilize opportunities to boost sector capacity as a whole.
NIT Rector Professor Zacharia Mganilwa said that the institution intends to cope with changes reflecting shifts in technology and labour market demand, related to five year strategies from the current 2016/2017 academic year to 2020/2022 in the fields of education, training and administration.
The NIT also intends to build a railway center to train technicians specialized in rail transport services, as well as putting in place a complete curriculum that enhances pilot and flight crew.
Other plans include extending the use of information technology to improve efficiency of services rendered by the institute and recruit more specialized staff to build NIT capacity to PhD level.
“NIT will improve the standard and quality of education in the transport sector that can meet the growing labour market demand,” he said.
In the graduation event, a total of 1,029 students were awarded with first degrees and master’s, post graduate diplomas, ordinary diplomas and certificates where women graduates stood at 239 pr about 33.3v percent of all graduates.
NIT Governing Council chairman Professor Brasius Bravo said the lack of funds was a major challenge that the institute faces at present.
Government subsidy has been decreasing while costs were rising, which affects the quality of services that the institute offers.
“NIT plans to utilize home grown sources of revenues and energetically seek other sources to overcome the challenge,” he added.