YEAR 2020 comes to an end as Tanzania marks an unprecedented era in modern rail transport.
President John Magufuli, who came to power in 2015 and was re-elected to the highest office in October, came up with an ambitious plan to transform the transport sector – air, marine, road and rail transport.
He has since pressed the Tanzania Railways Ltd (TRL) to modernise its infrastructure with about 230bn/-.
The firm is planning to digitalise its operations and buy new equipment that will attract more hauliers to transport bulk cargo to upcountry regions and landlocked countries through the railway network.
This will minimise road damage caused by trucks that have been transporting cargo, mostly from Dar es Salaam to upcountry and neighbouring countries.
TRL Board Chairman Severine Kaombwe was quoted as saying that a global positioning system (GPS) would be used to track all transactions and cargo movements.
While its Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) Project is about to give Tanzania its first electric powered train, the country is also making efforts to revive its once closed internal railway line for locomotives.
Last year, Tanzanians reopened a passenger and cargo train from Dar es Salaam to Moshi, Kilimanjaro, home to Africa's highest mountain.
New locomotives and engines were bought and the train eased pressure on road transport. Government officials led excited members of the public to board a trial train that has the first, second and third classes offering all amenities a traveller needs.
The revival of freight operations on the 438-km rail stretch was marked by a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa in Moshi.
The Tanga-Moshi line was out of use for over a decade. Now with its revival, the railway line provides reliable freight transport between Tanga Port and the northern regions of Kilimanjaro, Arusha and Manyara.
Tanzania's use of trains instead of road transport reduces costs, saves roads from damage and conserves the environment. The above-mentioned railway line is said to cut down the cost of moving bulk freight by up to 40 per cent, which is almost half the usual cost.
In the bigger picture of things, this means that rail transport helps to cut the cost of living for the entire nation.
This is so because by reducing transport costs, then traders goods can also reduce the costs of final products which means the consumer, who is the final buyer can also save some money because the goods will be sold at a lower price.
The internal railway system in Tanzania marks a new step towards meeting the country's ambitious industrialisation plans.
Already the country is five years ahead of time having achieved the middle-income economy status this year, ahead of the 2025 prediction.
The railway lines are expected to further speed up the country's development agenda.
When the East African Railways and Harbours Corporation dissolved in 1977 and its assets divided between Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, TRC was formed to take over its operations in Tanzania. In 1997 the inland shipping division became a separate company.
TRC Director-General Masanja Kadogosa said recently that the revival of the railway line was financed locally and done by local engineers.
The construction of 86.08 km Moshi-Arusha railway extension of Tanga Line started in Moshi in 1911 and reached Arusha in 1929. The rail distance from Arusha to Tanga and Dar es Salaam is 437 km and 644 km respectively.