Plans to revamp Tanzania – Zambia railways underway

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Zambian President Edgar Lungu told media on Monday after a meeting with Tanzanian President John Magufuli that there was new talk of revamping the multi-million dollar Tanzania -Zambia Railway Authority project(Tazara), according to a report by the Citizen.

The 1,860 km of railway line that joins the two countries has been run down by years of mismanagement.

Tazara, one of the most successful joint infrastructure project in east and southern Africa was on top of the agenda in the discussions held by the two countries’ leaders during the three day state visit by Zambian President Edgar Lungu in Tanzania

Chinese built the mega railway in 1970’s when Zambia was supporting the liberation struggle in Southern Africa from the apartheid regime.

“To date, Tazara, also fondly known as the ‘Great Uhuru Railway’ because of the role it played in the liberation of many countries in Southern Africa, is the greatest symbol of friendship between the nations of China, Tanzania and Zambia” the railways authority’s website says

Tazara has a debt of close to 800 million dollars and frequent protests by frustrated unpaid railway workers. Both governments agreed to absorb the debt to allow the railway line to resume on a clean slate.

The two leaders have agreed to allow other nations to partner in the process of revamping the railway line, in a new desire to make it profitable and a sustainable business not based on prior political agreements.

“The private sector can take advantage of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) models to partner with us in the running of the Dar es Salaam Commuter Train, whose demand is massive and cannot be satisfied at the moment” said President Lungu

The leaders agreed to renovate the rusty narrow gauge railway line, approve plans to link Tazara to the multi-billion dollar Bagamoyo port in Tanzania and also link with Malawi, DR Congo, Rwanda and Burundi.

“The government would own the railway infrastructure, but investors would be allowed to run private trains on the track for a fee” said Tanzania’s Ministry of Works, Transport and Communications permanent secretary

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