27 December 2012

Tanzania: Tazara Acquires New Train Engines

Photo: David Hecht/IRIN
Tanzania in agreement with DR Congo and Zambia to harmonize railway transportation (file photo).

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania — The derailing Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) has announced the purchase of six new Diesel Electric (DE) mainline locomotives from China.

Part of the acquisition also includes the re-commissioning of two out of four heavy duty gantry cranes during the just ended month of November 2012 that will aim at boosting its operations.

A press statement availed to East African Business Week in Dar es Salaam said the two projects would be a major step towards the completion of the implementation of capacity building projects under the 14th Protocol of Economic and Technical Co-operation (14th Protocol), signed by the governments of China, Tanzania and Zambia in December 2009.

It said all projects under the 14th Protocol were originally scheduled for completion by the end of 2011, but bumped into difficulties that have been since addressed through collective efforts on the part of TAZARA, the projects' implementing agents of China and the three governments, paving way for conclusion of the projects.

The TAZARA Managing Director Mr. Akashambatwa Mbikusita-Lewanika said he was delighted to be on the last round of the completion of all projects that fell under the 14th Protocol even as the Authority continue to face challenges.

Mbikusita-Lewanika said due to the financial crisis that TAZARA is undergoing, it is unable to meet some of the expenditures related to these projects, such as port charges and commissioning aspects requiring to be paid for locally.

He said the company was however determined to meet these obligations, and have been soliciting all the understanding and assistance it need from various parties.

The six 3000-horsepower DE locomotives, which are manufactured in China under license of General Electric Company of the United States of America, have already been cleared from the Port of Dar es Salaam.

They have been transferred to the TAZARA Dar es Salaam workshops where they are awaiting final release and hand-over from the Chinese suppliers a development which Mbikusita-Lewanika says it will uplift container loading and offloading activities at the two ends of the line.

Over the years, TAZARA has been receiving regular financial support from the Chinese government through what are termed as "Protocols of Economic and Technical Co-operation" signed with Tanzania and Zambia in the form of interest free loans.

The 14th Protocol having been signed in December 2009 was followed by the 15th protocol in March 2012 which has been the major sources of re-capitalization for TAZARA over the years by providing it with the needed equipment.

With the winding down of the 14th Protocol, the 15th Protocol is just getting into phase and is currently underway, having been signed in March 2012. The 14th Protocol catered for 12 Projects, out of which, having received the six locomotives, there are only two outstanding projects which are in the final phase of completion, these being the rehabilitation of three shunting locomotives and rehabilitation of four gantry cranes.

The 15th Protocol provides for the purchase of four additional mainline locomotives, two shunting locomotives, various rescue and lifting equipment, track trolleys, assorted spare parts and 30,000 pieces of wooden sleepers, rehabilitation of 42 passenger coaches, training of staff in various railway skills and attachment of Chinese Railway Experts to TAZARA over a specified period.

At inception, TAZARA had a fleet of 85 locomotives, built with Chinese technology, which

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