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By Perege Gumbo

Dilapidated Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) will need immediate injection of between USD70-100 million to perk up its operations in the most efficient business manner.

This was revealed over the weekend by Zambian Minister of Communications and Transport Ms. Dora Siliya, saying heavy recapitalisation of TAZARA was now inevitable.

TAZARA is the most important infrastructure facility serving the landlocked country.

Efficient functioning of the railway would enable Zambia to transport it`s copper to world markets smoothly, but in the end would enhance positive contributions to the two countries` economic development as well as livelihoods of its people.

In a recent exclusive interview, she said that the on-going tremendous trade growth between Tanzania-Zambia and the East Asia emerging markets such as China, India and others call for efficient and effective transportation system.

Ms. Siliya, who also doubles as the Chairperson of the Council of Ministers for TAZARA revealed the decision to recapitalise has already been agreed upon.

Members to the Council of Ministers for TAZARA from the Tanzania include Ministers for Infrastructure Development, Industry, Trade and Marketing, as well as for Finance and Economy.

From Zambia, members to that Council include Minister for Communication and Transport, Commerce and Trade, and Minister for Finance.

“I have come to first of all familiarise myself with the TAZARA railways infrastructure and the associated port facilities following financial and management problems that the railways is facing“, she said.

However, she described the Tanzania-Zambia trade relationship and mutual economic ties as very healthy, but in need of enhancement.

In recent times, she said, Zambian copper has been enjoying robust demand in Eastern Asian countries.

In addition, signs of oil deposits in northern Zambia are promising, meaning that now and in the future, TAZARA would continue to become lifeline for Zambia`s economy.

Because both governments of Tanzania and Zambia have agreed in principle to revamp TAZARA, what remains to be done is proper valuation of the firm`s assets and liabilities, as well as getting furnished with expert advice on how best to undertake recapitalisation.

“Massive investment was still required to turn the firm around and make it operate both effectively and efficiently“, she stressed.

At any rate, any best way chosen to recapitalise TAZARA would incorporate Chinese inputs. Chine helped build TAZARA in the 1970s.

Preliminary estimates, according to Siliya, shows that over the shorter run, TAZARA would need between USD 70 to 100 million to enable it resume normal operations economically.

Currently, TAZARA has 300 wagons against between 1,500 and 2,000 wagons required for the railways to operate efficiently and commercially.

As a result of wagons? deficiency, TAZARA?s maximum transportation capacity of 6 million tonnes per year has been restricted to 1.3 million.

Asked why Zambia`s formerly paralysed copper mines have suddenly boomed, she attributed the performance to appropriate privatisation policies which brought in right investors to the sector.

The just launched World Investment Report has ranked Zambia among ten best African Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) destinations, having attracted USD 1billion.

  • SOURCE: Guardian