The Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (Tazara) is currently undergoing a massive transformation process as it seeks to tweak its operational efficiency, the company has said.
Tazara managing director Bruno Ching'andu said in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the railway line has inked an Open Access Agreement (OAA) with the Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL) that will see the former extending its operations beyond Kapiri Mposhi.
Under the OAA, Tazara and ZRL will now be able to run locomotives and wagons alike onto each other's line.
"It will enable us to extend our operational destinations to Lusaka, Livingstone and Ndola in Zambia while ZRL can run all the way to Dar es Salaam. This will help us to attain our target of transporting about 350,000 metric tonnes of cargo in the financial year 2017/18," he said.
Currently, Tazara transports about 15,000 metric tonnes of cargo per month, suggesting that it hauls up to 180,000 tonnes per year.
"We are now determined to ensure that Tazara becomes a profitable company once again so that it can stop depending on government subsidies. This is just one of the immediate term strategies taken by the management to tweak the company's performance as we await a long-term solution," he said.
According to Mr Ching'adu, the government of Tanzania is also taking various measures to improve the company's operations. It is currently in the process to planting cargo scanners for railway operators at the Dar es Salaam port. "With the scanners, railway operators will no longer use trucks to load cargo from the port since trains will then be able to go all the way to the loading area at the port," he said.
According to the ZRL chief executive officer Mr Christopher Musonda, the move has come at a time when the Government of Zambia was in the process of effecting a Statutory Instrument (SI) that will compel all bulk cargo exceeding a certain tonnage to move from road to rail.
He said the strategy - which is technically known as 'the transport quota system' - aims moving 30 per of the bulk cargo from being transported by roads to rails.
"With the signing today, I believe that this open access train operations deal will offer confidence to our customers and give them a seamless, one-stop carrier," he said.
Once proved successful, the means of operations will extend further to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
BACKGROUND: ABOUT TAZARA
The Tazara Railway links Dar es Salaam Port in Tanzania to Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia. The single-track railway is 1,860 km long. The governments of Tanzania, Zambia and China built the railway to eliminate landlocked Zambia's economic dependence on Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa, both of which were ruled by white-minority governments. The railway provided the only route for bulk trade from Zambia's Copperbelt to reach the sea without having to transit white-ruled territories. The project was built from 1970 to 1975 as a turnkey project financed and supported by China.