THE commuter train services in Dar es Salaam were launched in the city on Monday, as the government praised the Tanzania Railways Limited (TRL) for saving the country from spending billions of shillings by rehabilitating coaches and locomotives locally.
Transport Minister, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe, commended TRL engineers and other workers for their patriotic spirit by renovating coaches, wagons and locomotives efficiently and cheaply. "In the past we used to dish out 18bn/- a year for rehabilitation of the same workload, but TRL has done the work at the cost of 2.6bn/- only. This is wonderful. Thank you," the minister said at the launching ceremony.
TRL is reportedly in the final preparations to resume complete central line services from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza. The company currently operates on Dar es Salaam - Tabora - Kigoma and Dar es Salaam - Tabora - Mpanda routes twice a week.Dr Mwakyembe said the government would ensure commuter train services in the city were efficient and sustainable and warned those who plan to sabotage the project.
The minister also said despite having patriotic people in TRL, there were some few workers who were engaged in theft of fuel and other criminal activities.Dr Mwakyembe stressed that the government would not hire expatriates to work with TRL, but warned that it was going to have zero tolerance on dishonest local staff.
He admitted that in some areas the railway line was in a pathetic condition and needed urgent and extensive rehabilitation, noting that the situation would improve gradually.Dr Mwakyembe said the ministry was aware that some people have invaded areas owned by TRL and directed them to vacate within six months.
"We are giving them enough time to leave the areas and pave the way for smooth train operations," he said.According to him, both Tanzania and Zambia Railways Authority (TAZARA) and TRL services on Monday started well with estimates showing TAZARA's first route carried more than 900 passengers.
TRL Managing Director, Mr Kipallo Kisamfu, said an evaluation on the running expenses would be carried out after a while.Mr Kisamfu also said TRL will be receiving and working on public views and comments on the services for further improvement.He said TRL was in talks with some transporters on the possibility of moving an influx of passengers disembarking from the trains at Ubungo Maziwa heading for various areas including Kimara, Mbezi and Kibaha.
TAZARA Station Mistress, Ms Walivyo Maneno, said operations started well yesterday and hinted on a plan where seven more coaches will be added on top of present seven and make it 14 in the near future.