Dodoma — Tanzania Railway Limited (TRL) and Reli Assets Holding Company (RAHCO) will soon disappear under the envisaged legislation that establishes the National Railway Company (NRC).
The government tabled the bill yesterday, nearly six months after signing of a 1.215 billion US dollars (over 2.7tri/-) deal with a consortium of Turkish and Portuguese companies for the construction of a 300-kilometre standard gauge railway.
The bill, if assented into law by President John Magufuli, will repeal TRL and RAHCO. Works, Transport and Communication Minister, Prof Makame Mbarawa, told the National Assembly here that the envisaged railway firm will operate and regulate railway transport services in the country.
"The bill seeks to establish a board of directors, new management and put conditions on operating the railway company," Prof Mbarawa told the House while tabling the Railway Bill, 2017. Tanzania has plans for the construction of the 2,561-kilometre standard gauge railway network, connecting Dar es Salaam to Kigoma and Mwanza regions.
The railway line is expected to boost trade with landlocked neighbours - Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Zambia, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda. The minister said the NRC will automatically in herit all assets and liabilities of RAHCO and TRL, noting that under the proposed law, the government proposes introduction of insurance to secure all passengers and cargo using the railway services.
Rahco announced in February that it had signed an agreement with the consortium of Turkish firm Yapi Merkezi and Portugal's Mota-Engil Engenharia e Construção África, S.A. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Infrastructure, however, raised concern over the powers that the bill has vested on the NRC director.
The Committee Deputy Chairman, Mr Moshi Kakoso, faulted the provision that gives the NRC Director powers to appoint technical advisors on his/her discretion, saying it violates the public service management procedures.
"The provision contradicts the public procurement law ... such powers should be given to the Board of Directors, " Mr Kakoso said. But the committee commended the government for finally disbanding the two organisations which were allegedly counterproductive.
The committee challenged the government to come-up with appropriate strategies to address a series of challenges facing the railway sector, especially the poor customer-relationships.
Mr Willy Qambalo, speaking on behalf of Works, Transport and Communication Shadow Minister, decried the recent move by Rahco to demolish all structures along the railway line, affecting thousands of residents in Dar es Salaam and other regions.
He said in Katavi, Tabora and Kigoma residents, for instance, had legally occupied the land years before Tanganyika regained her independence in 1961, but yet they have been termed encroachers.
"The proposed section 28 of the law carries the same condition as in section 38 of the Railway law of 2002. This means people affected by the railway projects will not be compensated even in areas where the project is developed outside its margins," he charged.
Ms Magdalena Sakaya (KaliuaCUF) asked the government to pay all arrears to the former Rahco and TRL staff and ensure the new company is financially stable to meet the emerging demands in the transport sector.