THE government has invited private individuals and companies to hire central railway wagons for transporting their cargo as Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) renovates its ports, including terminals that support the use of wagon ferries.
Speaking to reporters in Bukoba on Friday after inspecting the ongoing projects implemented by TPA that involve the rehabilitation of Bukoba Port and Kemondo Bay infrastructures, Minister for Works, Transport and Communication, Engineer Isack Kamwelwe, said such an arrangement was already in force with Tanzania Zambia Railways Authority ( Tazara).
According to the minister, Tanzania Railways Authority (TRC) has over 1000 wagons, some of which require rehabilitation before being put into use.
He said individuals, including private companies that will be ready to hire the wagons will have an agreement with the government on how to recover their money that would have been spent on the rehabilitation work.
"The core duty of the government is to build transport infrastructures and the private sector's role is to use them under special arrangements. This is what we call Public-Private Partnership (PPP)," he said.
According to the minister, private players wishing to hire or even buy their wagons should not hesitate to come forward as the government was ready to have an arrangement with them to facilitate their business in the transport sector.
He said the same arrangement would be applied upon completion of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).
Under the planned arrangement, the wagons will remain the property of the TRA but managed by those who will have hired and renovated them.
He said if all goes as planned, he would convene a meeting with traders next Tuesday in Dar es Salaam to brainstorm on the idea.
Engineer Kamwelwe said traders wishing to transport their goods to the Lake Zone have no reason to continue digging deep into their pockets to incur transport costs as railway and marine modes of transport are cheaper compared to road transport.
He said after the rehabilitation of the metre-gauge railway, passenger and cargo trains could now travel at the speed of 70 kilometres per hour.
He said with the rehabilitation of the central railway, cargo trains can now operate from Tanga or Dar es Salaam to Mwanza where the wagons with cargo can be transferred to Bukoba, Musoma, Port Bell in Uganda and Kisumu in Kenya.
According to Engineer Kamwelwe, TPA has already ordered six locomotive engines, one of which will be ferried to Kemondo Bay and one to Musoma Port.
He said the wagon ferry MV Umoja, which is owned by Marine Services Company Limited (MSCL) and with the capacity to carry 19 wagons at once, is now operating after being renovated.
It is now plying between Mwanza South Port and Port Bell in Uganda.
The marine company is planning to procure another wagon.
According to the minister, MV Victoria and MV Butiama will begin operations in Lake Victoria in the first week of April next year.
The two vessels are currently undergoing major renovations in Mwanza.