If at least 20 percent of Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority (Tazara’s) designated 5 million tonnes of freight per annum is utilised, it is then expected that the rail may successfully serve its local customers as well as the rest of the Southern African economies.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Guardian at a one-day Tazara Customer Summit held in Dar es Salaam at the weekend, Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) logistics manager Christopher Musonda advised Tazara to increase haulage capacity if it is to become a formidable competitor in the region’s logistics market.
“…to become a logistics market competitor in the region…” the KCM manager counselled one of the only two rail service entities in the nation, Tazara to haulage increase capacity to at least 1 million tonnes of freight per annum, saying “… this would not only make it superior in the market but exponentially raise its revenues…”
Musonda explained that the regional economies have grown compared to when Tazara started its operations, and since such growth is vital for its own growth, then the rail ought to take necessary recapitalisation initiatives to meet future challenges, engage in community based programmes and reap growing financial rewards.
Tazara railway is designed with 1067mm-gauge, with the capacity of 5 million tonnes of freight per annum if it were to connect with operations from Southern African railways such as Spoornet of South Africa, Botswana Railways, National Railways of Zimbabwe and the Railway System of Zambia.
“The designed capacity is yet to be utilised…” Musonda explained saying “…at which point it will benefit the entire Southern African Development Community (SADC) as well as the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa).”
When reached for comments, Yusuph Kamau, an Assistant Manager for Azam (a major consumer food producer and manufacturer) had similar words to the railway authority.
The Zambian Deputy Minister for Transport, Works, Supplies and Communications Panji Kaunda advocated for the immediate implementation of proposed capacity increasing strategies and pledged more contribution from his country.
“…the announced USD21m working capital needed, our governments have acknowledged the commitment of UDS5m each at the council of ministers’ meeting …” he reminded the meeting delegated.
Omary Chambo, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport announced that Tazara is set to receive six locomotives and 90 wagons in addition to a 40bn/- grant received earlier.
Tazara is the railway line linking the Southern Africa regional transport network to Eastern Africa, Asia and the Far East through the seaport of Dar es Salaam.
It provides the shortest route to the middle and far East for landlocked Zambia and to the rest of Southern Africa and parts of Zambia, including the Copper belt region and even into the Democratic Republic of Congo.