THE Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) has welcomed an offer by Puma Energy Limited to engage a team of experts to undertake an environmental impact mitigation programme at Wanging'ombe, about 683km from Dar es Salaam, where a train accident occurred in September this year.
A statement issued by TAZARA said the aim of the programme is to protect the environment and the community against risks of pollution and health hazards in the area as a result of the spillage of fertilizer and diesel.
The mitigation work will involve excavation and treatment of the soil on a monthly basis up to a period of between 6 to 12 months, during which time it is estimated that 650 - 850 cubic metres of damaged soil will be restored.
Puma Energy Ltd is one of the major TAZARA clients regularly transporting fuel by rail from the Port of Dar es Salaam to Malawi, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The energy firm has offered to complement TAZARA by providing experts and equipment to excavate and treat the soil in the affected area, restoring it to its original normal state.
Georem International Ltd, a private environmental contractor, has since been hired to carry out all the impact mitigation activities at the TAZARA accident site. TAZARA Managing Director, Mr Akashambatwa Mbikusita-Lewanika announced that the environmental impact mitigation efforts were in line with TAZARA's corporate social responsibility.
"We feel that it is only right to correct the damages that our railway operations may risk causing to the surrounding communities and environment following the spillage of the fuel and fertilizer we were transporting on behalf of Puma Energy Ltd and Nyiombo Investments Ltd, from Dar es Salaam to New Kapiri-Mposhi in Zambia.
This is why we have gladly given Puma Energy the go ahead and joined forces to remedy the contaminated soil around the accident site," said Mr Mbikusita-Lewanika. Mr Mbikusita-Lewanika commended Puma Energy for the gesture, observing that it was an exemplary demonstration of corporate social responsibility and very much in line with Puma Energy's publicly stated desire to respect the communities and environment in which they operate and take responsibility for their actions.
"This gesture encourages and inspires us to be more conscious with regard to our human responsibility towards better husbanding of our environment, even beyond the call for the profit motive," Mr Mbikusita-Lewanika said.
He added that TAZARA had already communicated to the Minister of Transport, the Minister of Environment, Tourism and Natural Resources, the regional leadership and the community informing them about the commencement of the exercise in the next one week.
The September 17 accident involved a freight-carrying train at Wanging'ombe - Kangaga section, causing a spillage of fertilizer and diesel at the sites and resulting in risks of environmental pollution and damages.
The train stock involved in the accident consisted of two mainline locomotives, 16 wagons of fertilizers, nine wagons of gas oil fuel, two wagons of hardware and two technical wagons. All the 29 wagons and two locomotives went off the rails and crashed at two separate sites.