THE revival of the passengers and freight operations to the northern regions has marked a major milestone of the government quest to increase efficiency and speed up the country’s economic development.
The resumption of the passengers and freight railway services to the northern regions come after more than 30 years since when the operations were halted.
Due to the role it performs in growth and development process, reliable and efficient railway networks provide good physical connectivity to the urban and rural areas which are essential for economic growth.
In just five years of the fifth phase government, massive investments have been pumped to construct the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) and rehabilitate the old railway system.
The ability of railway lines to ease congestions on the roads is immense and a country that can muster its use then opens up trade multifold. It is seen as the mainframe around which an integrated national transport system is built.
Speaking recently in an event to receive cargo and passenger train that resumed operations last month, Arusha Regional Commissioner, Idd Kimanta said the relaunch of the stretch between Moshi to Arusha was another important milestone that would lead to improvement of cost efficient transport services into the northern regions.
The Tanzania Railway Corporation (TRC) relaunched Tanga to Moshi cargo and passengers train services in July this year following extensive repair work on the rail line after it was out of use for 30 years.
"The completion of the Moshi-Arusha stretch is one of the efforts put by the fifth phase government to improve railway infrastructures which is cost efficient compared to other means of transport," he said.
He added, "We will not tolerate any individual who will attempt to vandalise the infrastructures for which the government has invested heavily."
During the event, the regional commissioner received eight passenger wagons and eight freight wagons carrying 320 tonnes of cement from Tanga Cement.
The RC instructed local authorities in areas where the train is passing to provide education on how to conserve the railway infrastructures as well as ensuring security.
According to him, the revival was no small task because the Tanga-Moshi railway network was out of use for over a decade.
The TRC Director General Masanja Kadogosa said the government spent over 14bn/ for the rehabilitation of the Tanga-Arusha railway.
He said the passengers train stopped operations to the northern regions in 1994 while cargo train halted freight services over 12 years ago. However, after successful trials, it then followed by the relaunching.
Eng Kadogosa said the long term plans are to construct modern railway line between Tanga to Arusha connecting to Musoma in Mara region.
Currently, the relaunched railway services serve to provide reliable freight transport between the port of Tanga and the northern regions of Kilimanjaro, Arusha and Manyara.
The use of railway system instead of road transport will serve to reduce costs, save roads from damage and conserve the environment.
With huge investment in railway transport, the government intends to stimulate agricultural development and local industries as well as tourism.
The above-mentioned railway line is said to cut down the cost of moving bulk freight by over 40 per cent.
In the bigger picture of things, this means that railway transport helps to cut cost of living for the entire nation.
This is so because by reducing the transport cost, then traders of the delivered goods can also afford to reduce the prices of their final products which means then the consumer, the final buyer can also save some money because the goods would be sold at a lower price.
In economic terms, use of railway lines promotes national development by reducing transportation costs many folds. In many cases, the cost of transport is high due to the related expenses of using road transport like congestions on the roads.
On his part, Tanga Cement Plc Resident Director Benedict Lema said the factory that produce Simba cement applauds the government efforts to relaunch the railway operations to the northern regions because it would help them deliver cement consignments to large and small scale customers on time.
“The resumption of the rail freight has come on right time and replaced trucks that could have been made several trips to Moshi and Arusha to deliver the same cargo ferried by train,” he said.
Eng Lema commended the government for the continued investment in transport infrastructure projects which would guarantee ferrying customers cargo to the northern regions on time.