TAZARA thrown a Chinese lifeline
The 40 year Tanzania-Zambia TAZARA, rail operation received a critical shot in the arm after the arrival last week of four new locomotives and 18 passenger coaches. The rolling stock worth $22.4 million comes as part of a $40 million funding package under the 15thProtocol of Economic and Technical Cooperation that China, Tanzania and Zambia signed in March 2012.
According to Eng. Ronald Phiri, “the economic and technical support from China has kept TAZARA afloat while awaiting the much needed recapitalization and restructuring by the governments ofTanzania and Zambia.
For a concession that has been marred with difficulties such as worn out equipment, unreliable services and a restive workforce amidst dwindling revenues , the new locomotives are expected to raise availability of locomotives by 33 percent and restore reliability to about 18% or to 7,098 NTK’s from the 6,015NTK’s recorded in the financial year 2014/15.
The15th Protocol of Economic and Technical Cooperation covering projects worth $40 million for TAZARA was signed by the governments of China, Tanzania and Zambia on 26 March 2012 in Lusaka.
Under the protocol, financing for TAZARA comes on interest free terms akin to the first protocol that saw construction of the line completed four decades ago. The 15th protocol covers the procurement and supply of eighteen passenger coaches and associated consumables, 4 new main line locomotives, two shunting locomotives, 2 rescue cranes, 30,000 pieces of wooden sleepers and training of staff among others.
TAZARA has received approximately $370 million in interest free credit from the Chinese government since inception.