THE Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) has restored its container handling capacity at various stations in both Tanzania and Zambia.
According to a TAZARA Press statement released in Lusaka yesterday by head of public relations Conrad Simuchile, the company has restored its container handling capacity at Dar-es-Salaam, Makambako, Kasama and the New Kapiri Mposhi stations.
Company managing director, Akashambatwa Mbikusita-Lewanika said this had been accomplished following the completion of the rehabilitation of four gantry cranes, arising from the contract signed between TAZARA and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) on May, 30, 2011 in Dar-es-Salaam.
He said CCECC completed the rehabilitation works on the four gantry cranes according to the quality standards specified in the Contract.
"The gantry cranes, which have been out of service for many years, have a lifting capacity of 36 tonnes and are mainly used for lifting containerised cargo onto and off the wagons," Mr Mbikusita-Lewanika said.
Mr Mbikusita-Lewanika said the company signed an agreement confirming the acceptance of the handover of all the four rehabilitated gantry cranes on Tuesday February 5, this year.
The acceptance certificate was co-signed by the leader of the Chinese Railway Experts Team based at TAZARA head office, Miao Zhong on behalf of CCECC.
Following the signing of the acceptance certificate, Mr Mbikusita-Lewanika said he was satisfied with the quality of works done on the four gantry cranes by CCECC and had willingly and eagerly accepted the rehabilitated equipment, which he said marked the restoration of TAZARA's capacity to properly and efficiently handle container traffic.
"The return to service of these cranes is a welcome challenge for TAZARA to market container services and for customers to seize the opportunity for rail trafficking of containerised cargo," he said.
Mr Mbikusita-Lewanika said for Makambako, TAZARA was called upon to pick up and deliver containerised freight to the local paper, sugar, tea and coffee industries and others in that region of Tanzania.
"For Kasama, this is a development that comes in time to take advantage of the opportunity to have this part of Zambia become a terminal point for container trans-shipments for traffic destined to and from Northern, Muchinga and Luapula provinces as well as, the upper parts of Eastern Congo DR," Mr Mbikusita-Lewanika said.
The completion of the gantry crane rehabilitation also marks the successful conclusion of six of the nine projects under the 14th Protocol, leaving the anticipated rehabilitation of three shunting locomotives, supply of SKF bearings for wagons and supply of two new shunting locomotives as the outstanding projects.
Over the years, TAZARA has been receiving regular support from the Chinese Government through what is termed as "Protocols of Economic and Technical cooperation" 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.