18 April 2017

Tanzania: Far Reaching Socioeconomic Benefits of Standard Gauge Railway

Photo: Daily News
President John Magufuli inspects a section of the Standard Gauge Railway project after laying the foundation stone at Pugu Station on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam.

The construction of 1,219-kilometre, Dar es Salaam- Mwanza- Kigoma Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) has commenced amid high expectation among Tanzanians who wish to see the railway recording good performance and contributing greatly to the nation's economy.

It is obvious that the economy of the country is set to improve as transportation costs will decrease. On its completion, Tanzanians from all walks of life will benefit from considerable cost savings in the coming years.

The project is one of the flagship venture for the fifth government, which is striving to push towards true development and eager to see Tanzania becoming an industrial country come 2025. Last week, President John Magufuli laid a foundation stone for Phase one project. The first phase will cover 300 kilometres from Dar es Salaam to Morogoro region. The project is 100 per cent funded by the government of Tanzania.

The new electrical train is expected to travel at high speed of 160kilometres per hour. Speaking during the launching of construction, President Magufuli said his government is optimistic to bring true changes and development to its wananchi. He said the SGR will help to speed up economic development and open up business doors with neighbouring countries.

The Head of State said his government aims at boosting intra- African trade which he said is currently below 15 per cent compared to Europe and America which is above 40 per cent. According to the Business Standard analysis, it has been identified that upon completion, the SGR will enable the country to make both economic and social advancement.

On completion, the standard gauge railway will offer the following economic and social benefits: Reduce congestion at the port of Dar es Salaam; thus securing the port as the preferred facility in the region. It will be easier for the port authority to load cargoes to the train, which will immediately move them to various destinations. The SGR will also reduce cost of transportation in the region; thereby making it an attractive investment destination.

Thus, it is obvious, traders from within Tanzania and neighbouring countries will be attracted to use Dar es Salaam port since there will be reliable and quick transportation of their consignments.

The SGR is also expected to contribute greatly to the country's GDP growth, this will be during construction and after the construction, thus during subsequent operation. Tanzania's transport sector rose by 55 per cent in value during 2009-2014, from 1.3bn/ US dollar to 2.1bn/- US dollar. The sector contributes 4.4 per cent to the country's GDP. Upon the completion of SGR, the transportation sector is expected to contribute more to the country's GDP.

Moreover, SGR is expected to reduce wear and tear on highways. For some years, the Tanzania Railway Limited has been not performing well due to various reasons including poor infrastructure. Thus several traders in and outside the country remained with no choice except transporting thousands of tonnes of cargoes on roads. As a result most of roads have been left in bad shape. However, upon the completion of the SGR project, it is obvious the project will reduce road maintenance cost.

Moreover, the completion of SGR will reduce road accidents, since there will be few trucks on the highway, the number of accidents is also expected to go down. Thus, SGR will make the roads safer for human traffic. Also SGR is expected to speed up industrialisation through cheaper transport and the establishment of new industries to service the new railway.

Moreover, the new project is expected to protect the environment through reduced carbon emission. Also during the 30 months of construction, service providers are expected to boost their businesses.

Services such as healthcare, catering, security and entertainment are expected to be provided to SGR workers. This in turn will create a captive market for the sector. Also 600,000 employment opportunities are expected to be created from SGR project. Furthermore, technological transfer is also something that as a country, Tanzania is taking advantage of. This is because skills have and are still being equipped to those individuals working in the construction. The skills will last since even after the project is over, more people will have learnt how to go about the whole process, thus transfer the same knowledge to future generations.

According to Reli Assets Holding Company (RAHCO) Managing Director, Masanja Kadogosa, the construction of the new and modern railway line is set to take place in 30 months. The new railway is expected to carry a total of 15 million tonnes of cargoes per year. The current ability of transporting is only 5 million tonnes annually. The electric bullet train(s) will have the capacity to carry 10,000 tonnes of cargo at a go - equivalent to 500 trucks of 20 tonnes each.

The new train on new railway is expected to use two hours and 50 minutes from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma and only seven hours and 40 minutes from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza. Mr Kadogosa said the size of the train will be 2 kilometres, it will consist 100 wagons, which is equivalent to 500 semi-trailer trucks.

Generally, the SGR is the foundation for an efficient transport in the country that is expected to boost economic growth, development and achievement of Tanzania's goals to become an industrial country by 2025. Upon the completion of the project, trade relation between Taanzaania and neighbouring countries will go up.

The construction of SGR should also serve as an alarming call to Tanzania traders, service providers, clearing and forwarding companies as well as all other stakeholders in the transportation sector since it is high time for them to boost their businesses at both local and international level. More information on the SGR The standard gauge (also Stephenson gauge after George Stephenson, International gauge, or normal gauge) is a widely used railway track gauge.

Approximately 55 percent of the lines in the world are this gauge. All high-speed rail lines, except those in Russia, Uzbekistan, and Finland, are standard gauge.

The distance between the inside edges of the rails is defined to be 1435 mm except in the United States, where it is still defined in Imperial and US customary units as 4 feet 8 1⁄2 inches (1,435.1 mm). It is also called the UIC gauge or UIC track gauge, the European gauge in the EU and Russia, or uniform gauge in Queensland, Australia.

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