The Tanzania Railway Limited (TRL) yesterday cancelled all upcountry passenger train services following severe floods caused by torrential rains in Dodoma and nearby regions
All central line train services had been cancelled after heavy rains and ensuing floods swept away the metal tracks in Dodoma and Morogoro regions yesterday.
More than 1,000 passengers from Kigoma, Mwanza and Tabora regions on Dar es Salaam-bound trains were yesterday stranded at Dodoma station, not knowing what to do.
The devastation forced the trains to stop at Kidete and Mzaganza stations, dashing hopes of passengers mostly traveling to Morogoro and Dar es Salaam, who were eager to meet their family and friends after Christmas and New Year holidays.
As the frustration amongst passengers heightened, the leadership of Tanzania Railways Limited (TRL) announced that it would hire 17 buses to ferry passengers to their destinations.
The TRL’s head of passenger and freight transportation in Dodoma, Haruna Mwano said the company would make sure that all the passengers were transported to their destinations without additional costs.
“They are 1090 passengers from Kigoma, Mwanza and Tabora regions and they are traveling to Morogoro and Dar es Salaam,” he said.
Meanwhile, the management of TRL yesterday announced immediate cancellation of all central line services following another destruction of the infrastructure between Kilosa in Morogoro Region and Gulwe in Dodoma Region because of the floods.
According to a statement issued yesterday by TRL acting Director General, Engineer Elias Mshana, the magnitude of the destruction was huge and the company’s engineers and technicians were on ground to assess the damage and possible action to be taken.
He urged all passengers who had bought their tickets to go to the same stations where they had bought them for refund so that they could get alternative means of transport.
“The management will inform the public when the TRL services will resume.” The statement reads in part.
On Friday last week, this paper reported that one of the strongest and wettest El Ninos will soon pummel Tanzania, bringing heavy rains, floods and waterborne diseases.
The Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA) told journalists in Dar es Salaam last week that this could be the biggest El Nino on record experienced in East Africa since 1997.
The agency’s directorate of meteorological services said that the El Nino would likely unleash “fury and destruction” of magnitude much like the one that occurred in 1997.
TMA Director General Dr Agnes Kijazi meanwhile said this year’s rains, which will likely double the 1997 El Nino ones that destroyed roads, washed away homes, bridges and farms, would likely cause famine, waterborne diseases and render thousands of people homeless.
“It’s important that the public be prepared for the worst flooding ever,” Dr Kijazi said in the city when opening a Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Mitigation (CCIAM) programme meeting that climate change was the reason behind the development.
In 1997, El Nino rains, which were described by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation as the biggest on record in the region, induced floods that left dozens of people dead and rendered thousands homeless.
The rains, which pounded several East African countries including Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda, rendered a record 10 million people requiring emergency food aid.
Dr Kijazi warned that a repeat of the scenario was likely this year “as temperatures over the Pacific Ocean have already risen by 2 degrees centigrade”.
“Climate change impacts are vivid and are posing many challenges which are continuing to manifest themselves in many countries, including Tanzania, and have impacted socio-economic sectors and the livelihoods of most people, particularly those sensitive to changes in weather and climate patterns,” she said.
“In addressing such challenges, it is important to enhance human capacity development, encouraging creativity and innovation among scientists so as to come up with solutions through research,” she noted.
“Through the CCIAM project, TMA has enhanced its human capacity as two employees were sponsored for specialised doctorate studies and five for master’s degree courses,” said Dr Kijazi, adding: “The knowledge they acquired will enhance TMA capacity to give better services and therefore achieve the project’s objectives.”
The 1997/98 El Nino rains, which began falling in November 1997 and lasted through March 1998, devastated most parts of Mara, Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Tanga and Shinyanga regions.
“In the country’s central and southern parts, where cereal crops of the 1998 main season were at the developing stage, crop losses to floods in low-lying areas of Iringa and Mbeya regions may be significant this time around,” warned Dr Kijazi.