TANZANIA will cross another key milestone in December this year as the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma will be ready for use, the Director General of the Tanzania Railway Corporation (TRC), Masanja Kadogosa has said.
He told members of the Parliamentary Standing Committees of Infrastructure Development and Public Investments on Monday that construction progress at the Dar es Salaam to Morogoro and Morogoro to Dodoma lots are on right track and would be completed and ready for operations in December, this year.
“As you can witness most of the work is complete and we are remaining with minor activities which cannot restrain the train from using the standard gauge railway infrastructure by December, this year,” Mr Kadogosa told the Members of Parliament who made the maiden SGR trip via the engineers’ coach from Dodoma to Dar es Salaam.
Construction of the standard gauge railway to link Tanzania with the land linked neighbouring countries is one of the major government’s flagship projects entailed in the Third Five-Year National Development Plan 2021/22 – 2025/26 (FYDP III).
Equally, it will help the country to make optimal use of her strategic geographical location to become a leading regional trade and logistic hub.
Tanzania is accessible through the Indian Ocean, which gives it trade links to Asia and sits in between six landlocked countries (Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia and Malawi) and rely on it as the most efficient point for passage of goods.
The East African nation is also a natural and effective transportation gateway into Eastern, Southern and Central Africa due to its membership in the SADC Free Trade Area and EAC Common Market as well as its rail and road networks.
Apart from being a point for passage of goods, Tanzania’s internal production capabilities, driven by rich natural resources such as large size of arable land and mineral deposits make it a natural hub for economic activity in the East African Region.
Mr Kadogosa said the Dar es Salaam to Morogoro lot is now complete by 98 per cent, whereas the Morogoro to Dodoma stretch construction stands at 91 per cent.
The remaining parts from Dar es Salaam to Morogoro are the flyover bridges and infrastructures for the Dar es Salaam Rapid Bus Transit to ensure passengers’ connection to their destinations is guaranteed, he said
He said operations will be in full swing come February next year as the first phase of the wagons and passengers cabin will arrive by the end of this month.
He said the operational trial run will be in December and the Land Transport Regulatory Authority (LATRA) will oversee safety and effectiveness of the railway line before issuing a clearance to start official operations.
He said fares would be reasonable and affordable since passenger trains will be more of a service than commercial.
He said the corporation has started coaching the train (engine) drivers locally before going abroad for further studies.
Mr Kadogosa said so far the first trial runs to test if all the systems are working as subjected to the terms of operations for safety and security of the public and infrastructures.
“It is a complex project, the regulator has to test the safety of the railway line, fibre, cartel system and electricity transmission line connected to the national grid,” he said.
He allayed public fears about electricity reliability, saying the SGR system is connected to the national grid and it has a power reserve that can sustain it to run for almost 48-minutes without the need to feed generation among other standby power generation line up.
Mr Kadogosa said the first engineering trial runs show that the railway line expected time from Dar es Salaam to Morogoro might be reduced as the speed is 160-kilometers per hour.
He said upon completion, the SGR will link Tanzania with Rwanda, Burundi and the DR Congo.
He said the government is expected to inject 16.6tri/- for the 1,219 kilometres in all the five phases of the SGR project from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza, saying it has paid a total of 6.4tri/- as of June 30, this year.
The TRC DG said with the SGR project, the government will cut operation costs by three per cent by using electricity compared to the current use of diesel.
The five phases under the SGR projects will cover Dar es Salaam – Morogoro section covering 300km, the Morogoro- Makutupora section 422km, Makutupora -Tabora section taking up 294km.
The final sections are Tabora – Isaka at 130km and Isaka to Mwanza, another 249km, capped by the Tabora to Kigoma section stretched along 411kms.
He said the SGR project will involve aligning national development plans to help Tanzanians move out of poverty, including the widening of road networks countrywide as it facilitates the development of other sectors.
Moreover, he said the current meter gauge railway line infrastructure will be retained as an important line which connected other parts of the country, thus TRC is making a number of renovations to the infrastructure, locomotives, passenger coaches and wagons.
For his part, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Infrastructure Development, Mr Moshi Kakoso underscored the need to engage residents along the SGR to build up a sense of project ownership.
According to the FYDP III, much as the project requiring high capital investments, the country stand to gain significantly after its completion.
Beside the possible direct monetary gains, the return of the project according to the plan can be very high in form of wider sector effects – reduced costs of production, faster access to domestic and hitherto untapped regional markets and enabling the country to fully exploit its geographical location advantage. The projects offer multiple income generation projects and others ‘enabling’ – investment, employment, improved welfare and an expanding tax base.