TRAIN services by the Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) are expected to resume today, thanks to government's intervention to the impasse that has gripped the authority since Monday last week.
The Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Transport, Dr Shaaban Mwinjaka, told the 'Daily News' in Dar es Salaam that the government held meeting with Tanzania Railway Workers Union (TRAWU) and TAZARA administration and agreed on the resumption of services as the government assumed responsibility to settle some of the issues raised.
Dr Mwinjaka said the government of Tanzania agreed to settle salaries for April and February, while Zambia is expected to settle March and May salaries.
He said the meeting scheduled for last Friday did not take place. It is understood that Zambia has requested for the meeting to be held at the end of this month.
"We made remarkable progress yesterday (Saturday) after meeting with the workers union and the TAZARA management and agreed that work should resume tomorrow (today) as we settle the issue of salaries for February and April," Dr Mwinjaka explained.
He added that the government felt that waiting until the end of the month to start resolving the issues will be catastrophic to the public, as it would hamper train services hence the decision to settle the February and April salaries.
"The Zambia government on the other hand will settle the March and May salaries," the PS said. He noted that in scheduled meeting, Tanzania will get a chance to know why the March salaries have not yet been availed by Zambia.
The railways' workers downed their tools last week, demanding unpaid salaries for February, in some cases and for March and April 2014, stressing that they will continue with the strike until their salary backlog is settled.
Meanwhile, TAZARA has ordered 18 new passenger coaches and spare parts from after government intervention China, valued at Chinese Yuan 60 million (approximately 9.52 million US dollars) to be delivered by October, next year.
TAZARA signed the 15bn/- contract with the Chinese Civil Engineering and Construction Commpany (CCECC), which was appointed by the Government of the People's Republic of China to co-ordinate implementation of all Chinese-supported projects at TAZARA.
TAZARA Acting Managing Director, Engineer Ronald Phiri, welcomed the investment, saying the future for the railways company lay in the recapitalisation efforts, considering that the available equipment and infrastructure had drastically depreciated and needed urgent refurbishment and in some cases, total replacement.
The procurement of the 18 coaches and spare parts has been facilitated through loan funds from the 15th Protocol of Economic and Technical Cooperation (15th Protocol) signed by the three governments of China, Tanzania and Zambia on March 26, 2012 in Lusaka, Zambia.
Under the 15th Protocol, the procurement of the coaches is one of the projects with a value of Yuan 270 million (approximately US$40 million) to be undertaken in support of TAZARA.
Apart from the supply of 18 coaches and accompanying consumables, other projects covered under the 15th Protocol include the supply of four new main line locomotives, two shunting locomotives, two rescue cranes and various lifting equipment.
Others are track trolleys, assorted spare parts and 30,000 pieces of wooden sleepers as well as training of staff in various railway skills and attachment of Chinese Railway Experts to TAZARA over a specified period.
TAZARA has been receiving regular financial support from the Chinese Government through what are termed as "Protocols of Economic and Technical Cooperation" signed with Tanzania and Zambia in the form of interest-free loans.
Since inception, TAZARA has received financial support to the tune of more than 2.5 billion Yuan in form of interest free loans, including the TAZARA construction loan and other loans under the Protocols of Economic and Technical Co-operation, which are currently in the 15th phase.
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