Dodoma — THE two week strike staged by workers of the Tanzania and Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) has caused a loss amounting to USD 1.4 million.
The standoff has now been resolved and all workers have been ordered to report to work next Monday, without fail.
Minister for Transport, Dr Harisson Mwakyembe, informed the National Assembly in Dodoma that despite the fact that the strike, organised by the Tanzania Railway Workers' Union (TRAWU) was not legal, government took into consideration the suffering of workers and their families and issued instructions that no punitive measures should be taken against the workers.
The strike started on August 23, 2013 with workers demanding arrears in payment of salaries for the months between May and August this year. Mr Mwakyembe assured the workers that effective Thursday monies were deposited at the bank and remission to individual accounts is going on.
"Assessment by the two governments (Tanzania and Zambia) on the mode of operation revealed that despite a growth in volume of cargo transported with TAZARA, the company's expenditure exceeded profits.
Over the last six months, TAZARA collected USD 1.53 million per month but spent US Dollar 2.5 million monthly," Mwakyembe explained.
He said salaries and fuel consumption alone amount to US Dollar 1.9 million a month and the rest goes to other managerial expenses.
"After long discussions with my Zambian counterpart, Yamfwa Mukunga, the government of Zambia has disbursed US Dollar 5 million already received by the management of TAZARA and Tanzania has given 2bn/- as contingency for TAZARA.
The company has been instructed to recover debts from clients amounting to USD 3.17 million," he said.
The minister assured the House that the workers have already received salaries for the month of May and arrears for the months of June, July and August would be taken care of.
Commenting on the effects of the strike, the minister said 13 freight trains with 252 wagons carrying 10,080 tonnes of copper, manganese, fertilizers, oil and cement suspended activities. Again more than 46,000 passengers missed out on the services.
"I call upon all workers to resume duties and work to bridge the loss created during the strike. TAZARA Board of Directors has been instructed to meet ahead of a ministerial summit scheduled for this month to review the situation for appropriate measures. TAZARA was established as a turnkey project in the early seventies.
The project was financed by an interest free loan of USD 500 million from the Peoples Republic of China. It started commercial operations in July 1976. TAZARA is an integral part of the southern Africa Regional Rail Transport Network.
The railway line currently handles exports and imports of both Tanzania and Zambia, as well as Malawi, The Democratic Republic of Congo and the rest of the Great Lakes Region.