WB boosts safety, efficiency on key railway route

By Guardian Reporter , The Guardian
Published at 06:05 PM Mar 29 2024
Nathan Belete, World Bank Country Director.
Photo: FILE
Nathan Belete, World Bank Country Director.

TANZANIA’S vital Dar es Salaam - Isaka existing meter gauge railway segment is set for major improvements, thanks to newly approved financing from the International Development Association (IDA), a part of the World Bank Group.

A statement released yesterday by WB and made available to this paper, indicates that the $200 million financing for the second phase of the Tanzania Intermodal and Rail Development Project (TIRP-2) will improve safety, climate resilience, and operational efficiency along this railway segment.

Apart from strengthening of infrastructure and supporting transport studies, the project components are also focused on strengthening climate resilience of the Kilosa-Gulwe-Igandu section; providing operational and institutional support; and supporting the emergency response.

The project is expected to directly benefit nearly 900,000 people and indirectly impact an estimated 3.5 million, roughly five percent of Tanzania's population. This includes railway users, residents along the line, businesses involved in trade, and communities along the Kinywasungwe catchment area.

"While the country's transportation network is extensive, there are persistent bottlenecks in terms of maintenance and capacity that are limiting its full use," said Nathan Belete, World Bank Country Director. "This investment will directly address the bottlenecks in the rail network to enhance efficiency, capacity, and competitiveness so as to maximize Tanzania's unique position to facilitate regional connectivity."

There are currently two operational railway systems in the country covering a total of 3,682 km. These include the Tanzania railway (2,707 km), which is a meter gauge railway (MGR) under the Tanzania Railway Corporation, and the Tanzania-Zambia railway line (975 km), in addition to a cape gauge railway (CGR) system under the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA). A third system that entails a standard gauge railway (SGR) along the Central Corridor is being built in phases.

TIRP-2 builds on phase one of the IDA-financed Tanzania Intermodal and Rail Development Project (TIRP-1) which closed in September 2022. TIRP-1 supported the government in improving the MGR railway section between Dar es Salaam and Isaka (970 km).

This included the rehabilitation of tracks and bridges, which helped to increase the axle load capacity from 13.9 tons to 18.5 tons for the section between Dar es Salaam and Tabora (840 km); and the completion of designs to rehabilitate the intermodal terminals at the Dar es Salaam port, Ilala, and Isaka. TIRP-1 also facilitated the acquisition of additional rolling stock for TRC and contributed to the development of economic and safety regulations for open-access train operations.

“The new project will invest in climate-informed infrastructure, adapting the corridor to natural disasters and mainstreaming climate resilience,” said Yonas Mchomvu, World Bank Senior Transport Specialist and Task Team Leader. “Overall, the investment will improve incentives for the private sector to drive economic growth and generate wider economic benefits and greater efficiency.”

The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives.

IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 76 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.6 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 113 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $21 billion over the last three years, with about 61 percent going to Africa.