Chinese capital investment for revamping the Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority (Tazara) is awaiting pending negotiations to decide on public-private partnership (PPP) in the project.
Speaking on the sidelines of the 7th East and Central Africa Roads and Rail Infrastructure Summit, Tazara public relations manager Conrad Simuchile said yesterday said that a Tazara management team would visit China next month for the talks.
“Negotiations on revamping Tazara to make it attractive to Chinese investors are at an advanced stage. The only pending issue is the form of PPP that will form part of the contractual terms,” said Mr Simuchile.
Addressing the summit, Tazara managing director Bruno Ching’andu said that the struggling firm needed an urgent capital injection of $250 million for rehabilitation of the railway line and equipment.
“Tazara has been performing poorly over the years. We need investors to revamp Tazara. The design capacity of Tazara was to transport five million tonnes of goods a year, but it now transports only 1.3 million tonnes. It ferries less than five per cent of cargo handled at Dar es Salaam port,” he said.
The Tazara railway line was originally designed to carry three million passengers annually, but the current traffic is only 450,000 passengers.
Mr Ching’andu blamed the firm’s poor performance on worn-out equipment, an ageing workforce, low operating capital and stiff competition Dar es Salaam Port was facing from other ports in eastern and southern Africa.
He said, however, that 20 percent of the firm’s wagons had been repaired as a result of the management’s efforts to turn the company around, adding that transit time between Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia to Dar es Salaam had been reduced from 30 to six days.
Mr Ching’andu also said investment opportunities in commuter train services provided by Tazara had increased significantly in recent months.
The Minister of Works, Transport and Communications, Prof Makame Mbarawa, said when opening the conference that the government would attract significant investments for upgrading roads and railways to make the country’s vision of becoming a middle-income economy by 2025 a reality.