China offer to revamp TAZARA

30 Jun 2010
Lusaka- China plans to send experts to establish problems faced by TanzaniaZambia Railway Authority intended to assist the joint venture revive its operations.Chinese Ambassador to Zambia Mr. Li Qiangmin said the railwaya authority, known as TAZARA was a symbol of friendship between Zambia and China and his country was saddened by the problems the company, Zambia’s leading carrier of copper and other cargo intended for export to Europe, was facing.“We are sending a technical team to TAZARA to investigate the railway problems and help them improve efficiency of operations,” the envoy said recently in Lusaka during his country’s new year’s celebrations organized by Standard Chartered BankThe envoy advised Zambia to improve its public transport system for the country to improve competition within the region. China recently pledged to assist Zambia construct a road from Mongu in western Zambia to neighboring Angola. TAZARA, a joint railway venture project between Zambia and Tanzania, has been instrumental in facilitating transportation of copper from the Southern African nation including other goods intended for export to Europe since it was constructed and commissioned in 1976.Recently, China gave the financially beleaguered TAZARA $39 million loan free facility intended to revamp its operations, according to Zambia’s communications Minister Mr. Geoffrey Lungwangwa.Apart from reviving operations, the loan would be used to acquire six new locomotive engines, four wagons and repairing 1,200 wagons to meet transportation demands for the authority, chiefly used by the mines in Zambia to transport copper to Dar-es-salaam in neighboring Tanzania for export to Europe.Mr. Lungwangwa said the financing of TAZARA was arrived at in China during a recent meeting with the Chinese government at which Zambia and Tanzania signed the 14th protocol to provide $39 million interest-free-loan.The finance would also be used to repair the railway line and purchasing of new equipment for the workshop aimed at bringing efficiency in the company’s operations. Since the economies of Tanzania and Zambia were growing, it was important to rehabilitate the railway line to meet the increasing production of copper chiefly in Zambia and other agricultural products in the two countries. Mr. Lungwangwa stated that a team of Chinese experts was expected to be dispatched to work with the TAZARA management to evaluate its viability and to carry out a comprehensive study on how it could link other countries through the railway network. The railway line runs from Dar es Salaam to Zambia’s New Kapiri Mposhi covering 1,870 kilometres. Tanzania’s Development minister Shukuru Kawambwa said recently that the financing was intended to save Tazara from total collapse as the company has been experiencing major operational and financial problems with a debt burden of more than $100 million. “We aim and are serious about bringing Tazara back to life. This is one of the major infrastructures of the economies of our two nations as well as neighbouring countries,” Kawambwa told reporters in Tanzania recently.TAZARA was built in 1974 and commissioned in 1976 with $500 million financial provided by China. It is seen as the icon of friendship among the three partner states, Zambia, China and Tanzania. The railway line also facilitated the opening of trade links between Tanzania and other landlocked neighboring countries including Zambia.