AFTER suffering a significant drop in cargo volume for several years, Tanzania- Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) has started picking up, as the company has now secured freight orders to transport 600,000 tonnes.
The increase in cargo volume has been attributed to intensive marketing campaign to regain customers' confidence by improving efficiency. The successful campaign has seen the company moving from transporting 130,000 tonnes of cargo in 2015/2016 to 600,000 tonnes.
TAZARA Managing Director, Eng Bruno Ching'andu said that following a successful marketing campaign and a demonstration of the company's ability to deliver on time with maximum safety and security, many customers had now offered confirmed freight traffic orders in excess of 600,000 tonnes for transportation on both ends of the railway line.
Under the new marketing strategy, the company has reduced the number of days for transporting cargo from 20 days to 5 days from Dar es Salaam to Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia.
Speaking this week at the official opening of the second meeting of the Master Workers' Council, Eng Ching'andu challenged workers to rise to the occasion and take advantage of the abundant cargo that is now being presented to the authority for transportation.
He commended the workers for working hard to win back confidence of the customers and challenged them to now focus on delivering and proving to the public that the company was capable of meeting the huge market demand.
"We have to prove our relevance to our shareholders as well as to the public by moving all the freight that has been availed to us," he said.
Eng. Ching'andu further observed that although TAZARA was facing capacity constraints, the huge demand for the railway transportation services, coupled with the positive and encouraging good will from the two governments of Tanzania and Zambia, was sufficient to spur every worker to think of creative ways for overcoming the challenges.
"We need to be innovative and to think outside the box in order to overcome these capacity constraints," he said.
He however informed the workers that in order to enhance the haulage capacity in the short term, and considering that funds for re-capitalization would take long to materialize, the management was actively seeking to increase the fleet of locomotives and wagons through short-term measures such as leasing of the required equipment and other external operators to ply the railway within the next few weeks.
In order to increase efficiency and capacity in November last year, Tanzanian President, John Magufuli met with his Zambian counterpart, Edgar Lungu to discuss among other issues, Tazara's long-standing woes.
The two heads of state agreed that Tazara management set up needed to be changed to allow people from outside Tanzania and Zambia to be considered for senior managerial positions in the firm, which is contrary to the current arrangement where the managing director comes from Zambia, with Tanzania providing the deputy.
President Magufuli said their decision was aimed at restoring Tazara's ability to serve its customers, and said in 1976 Tazara was able to transport five million tonnes of cargo annually, but that figure had dropped to128, 000 tonnes last year.
In order to revamp the authority, the two head of states directed attorney generals of the two countries to meet and review the legal framework of the Tazara Act of 1975 to accommodate changes in the management setup to make the authority commercially viable and attractive to private players.