TANZANIA and Zambia have agreed to inject US$ 80 million (about 133bn/-) into the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) in the next 12 months to turn around operations of the railway.
Tazara spokesperson, Mr Conrad Simuchile, said in a statement issued on Tuesday that the decision to recapitalise the railway was reached at a council of ministers meeting held in Lusaka, Zambia on Friday last week.
The Council of Ministers meeting is the highest policy organ of TAZARA. The meeting also decided that US$ 9.20 million would be disbursed immediately to cater for two months of the outstanding employees salary arrears and some working capital.
The Minister for Transport, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe, who is the current Chairperson of the Council of Ministers, said the Tanzanian government was encouraged by the commitment of the Zambian government towards TAZARA. "We are delighted and greatly encouraged by the unprecedented commitment and support shown by our Zambian partners towards TAZARA, In line with the commitment shown by Zambia, I take this opportunity to reiterate our commitment as Tanzania and affirm that we are willing and ready to find resources in order to ensure that TAZARA's operations are boosted to a level where we shall all be comfortable," Dr Mwakyembe is quoted to have said. He said that the two governments would not allow TAZARA to collapse.
And his Zambian counterpart, the Minister for Transport for Zambia, Mr Yamfwa Mukanga said that he was confident that if every player in TAZARA was committed, it was very possible to turn around the Authority.
"We all must put in what we can so that this company is turned around. If we are all committed, this company will be turned around. We must find lasting solutions," said Mr Mukanga.
The Zambian Minister further said that since the two governments were showing serious commitment by heavily investing resources in TAZARA, it would also be expected that management and employees would equally perform.
"Performance will no longer be an option and measures will be put in place to ensure that each and every position is monitored for performance so that those who are not performing are weeded out immediately," said Mr Mukanga.
Tazara was constructed 40 years ago under China financial and technical support, and has had months of low productivity and operational disruptions due recurrent labour disputes.
Lack of working capital to pay salaries and procure fuels and lubricants for the trains had compounded the problems affecting the authority.