MEGA projects bring with them many benefits not only to the country, but also to the public at large. And interestingly, reaping the benefits of such development initiatives does not wait until their completion.
With Tanzanian implement - ing the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project, a lot of opportuni - ties have been created, and these range from employment, increas - ing the market for locally made construction materials and several other services offered by local companies.
Revelations were made re - cently that the construction of the SGR project has multi-effects to socio-economic development. According to the Tanzania Railway Corporation (TRC), the ongoing construction of first phase of the SGR from Dar es Salaam to Morogoro has so far poured in 307 million US dollars (707.3bn/-) into Tanzania’s econ - omy through local subcontrac - tors, suppliers as well as service providers.
The TRC further expects that over 2trl/- will have been spent locally during the implementation of the project, which edges to - wards completion and thus beefing up the circulation of money in the country. Project Manager, Eng Machibya Masanja stated this when briefing permanent sec - retaries and their deputies who toured the construction site from Morogoro to Dar es Salaam re - cently. The ministries’ accounting officers also visited the SGR Sec - ond Phase project from Morogoro to Dodoma.
President John Magufuli has repeatedly emphasised on in - creasing local content in devel - opment projects implementation, by deploying local companies to undertake the tasks. His sentiment was always that foreign contractors have mainly been benefiting the economies of their countries, by importing raw materials from those countries as well as staff.
Explaining how the project pours money into the country, he said the project has subcontracted over 140 local contractors and suppliers on different contracts. “These locals have been paid for goods and services, thus en - abling the money from the project to circulate within the country,” he said.
Apart from local subcontrac - tors, the project required that la - bour ratio stands at 80 per cent lo - cals and the remaining 20 per cent foreigners, the condition which has been complied.
The Dar es Salaam-Morogoro SGR project has employed 8,303 workers, out of whom 7,063 are locals while 1,243 are foreigners. On the part of key personnel such as engineers, the project is supposed to have 20 per cent lo - cals against 80 per cent foreign - ers. However, it has exceeded the limit since locals constitute 46.5 per cent.
“According to the contractor, the number of local key person - nel is large because they were inspired after seeing that Tanzani - ans are trainable. It takes them a short period to train and make us understand,” Eng Masanja noted. There are a number of people working part-time jobs in the con - struction of the SGR project. TRC Director General, Ma - sanja Kadogosa said the country’s economy has benefited from the project since a large part of the construction materials used is purchased from within the coun - try.
For instance, the project is ex - pected to use 150,000 tonnes of iron and 9.2 million cement bags from local manufacturers. However, he said low capac - ity in terms of required equipment for works was one of the chal - lenges on the part of local sub - contractors. “In order to build their capac - ity, they should unite in undertak - ing the works, and this is what we have been insisting to the Engi - neers Registration Board (ERB),” he said.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Constitution and legal Affairs, Prof Sifuni Mchome, who led the delegation of permanent secretaries and their deputies to visit the project, told the TRC that there should be stra - tegic communication to inform the public over the development of the project, noting that the progress was amazing. Prof Mchome noted that the flagship project meant a lot to the development of the country, par - ticularly towards the industrial economy by 2025.
“This means that taxes that the citizens pay are properly used for bringing development. The project proves that actions speak more volumes than words,” he said.
The modern railway is expect - ed to reduce the time of travel us - ing the electric train, as opposed to the bus. Currently, road networks ex - perience congestion because a huge chunk of cargo is transported via roads, but the SGR will come to relieve the roads since trains will be transporting the cargos.
The project was very signifi - cant towards a journey of chang - ing the country’s economy. Upon this fact, the govern - ment recently secured loans amounting to 3.3trl/- from 17 fi - nancial institutions under coordi - nation of the Standard Chartered Tanzania to fund the project.
“Our national debt is still sustainable, and we must take loans because this railway project will change the economy of the country for the next generations, since the lifespan of this railway is 200 years,” Finance and Plan - ning Minister, Dr Philip Mpango stated.
He called upon other local financial institutions to follow the example shown by 17 partners, saying there were still other proj - ects that needed funding, such as the railway section from Mwanza to Shinyanga and Isaka. For the first time in over 50 years, Tanzania’s transnational railway is being modernised. would speed up the country’s industrialisation drive