21 February 2013

Zambia: Tazara Needs U.S.$4 Billion to Modernise

THE Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) would require US$4 billion to fully modernise the railway line and its operations.

Company managing director Akashambatwa Mbikusita-Lewanika said it would be costly to rebuild TAZARA, considering that a lot of money would be required to start afresh and that was the more reason the government was opting for rehabilitation.

"It is cheaper for us to rehabilitate the infrastructure other than having to start all-over again, because $4 billion will be required if we are to reconstruct TAZARA," Mr Mbikusita-Lewanika said.

He said this in Lusaka shortly after a dinner which was hosted by Transport, Works and Supply Minister Christopher Yaluma in honor of his Tanzanian counterparts and graced by First Republican President Kenneth Kaunda.

He said the two governments wanted to pay more attention to TAZARA and bring it back to its original glorious state.

Mr Mbikusita-Lewanika said money would have to come from either the governments or be opened up for private sector participation.

He said the platform for the way forward had been laid in that the TAZARA Act was being reviewed.

Speaking during the dinner, Tanzanian Transport minister Harrison Mwakyembe, assured Zambians and Dr Kaunda that TAZARA would not collapse.

He said TAZARA was an important company to the two governments because of its historical background and they could not let the institution collapse.

Dr Mwakyembe said Tanzania and Zambia should come up with a plan to be implemented by the two governments on the rehabilitation of TAZARA and that was the reason they met yesterday.

He said TAZARA was faced with serious operational problems at present, considering that 90 per cent of the cargo had been shifted on the road instead of moving on the rail.

"People think that TAZARA will collapse, but I want to assure you Mzee (Old man), it will not collapse. We will take drastic measures because we cannot afford to let it collapse," Dr Mwakyembe assured Dr Kaunda.

And Dr Kaunda advised Zambia and Tanzania to build on the foundation that he and late former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere laid.

Dr Kaunda said it was important for the two governments to rebuild and strengthen TAZARA so that it could continue growing in other fields as it was important to Africa.

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