Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Standard gauge railway to improve Tanzania’s economy

The recently signed construction of high speed standard gauge railway (SGR) line from Dar es Salaam to Morogoro, which will later on be extended up to Mwanza city, will improve the country’s economy while cutting down higher transportation costs, an economist specializing on road transportation matters has said. Reuben Daniel, a city based economist said in an exclusive interview that, there are several economic hurdles which would be reduced once the railway line is in full operation. He mentioned such hurdles as the notorious congestion of containers at the Dar es Salaam port as currently the situation is, and these would now be reduced to secure the port as the preferred facility not only in the country but within East and Central Africa region.  The railway line would reduce cost of transportation in the country by reducing the number of heavy trucks on the highways thereby making an attractive investment destination. This is expected to reduce further the number of accidents, hence making roads safer for human traffic. As Tanzania’s fifth phase government has devoted to build an industrial state, the newly constructed railway line would speed up the industrialization process through cheaper transport that would ease the establishment of new industries thus, contributing to the GDP growth of at least 11 percent per annum from the currently 7 percent. Three months ago, Tanzania signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with two construction companies from Portugal and Turkey for the construction of a 300 km standard gauge railway line between Dar es Salaam and Morogoro worth 2.2tr/-, whose implementation is expected to commence in the next six weeks. The railway line to be constructed using electric-infrastructure is set to spend seven-hours from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza cruising at 160 kilometers per hour. This is the highest compared to the rest in Africa. The railway-line is designed to carry 17 million tonnes of cargo per year, compared to currently whereby its capacity does not exceed 3 million tonnes. According to the Minister for works, Transport and Communication Professor Makame Mbarawa,  Dar-Moro phase is part of five phases planned to be implemented to complete the SGR to Mwanza. He further noted that the SGR project which is the biggest infrastructure in Tanzania will be completed in 30 months. He said in an exclusive interview that, Tanzanians of all walks of life are set to enjoy considerable cost savings in the next coming years which is one of the most important country’s development visions of 2020. “This is one of the flagship projects to cover the longest railway line in the country which runs through eight regions which are Dar es Salaam, Coast, Morogoro, Dodoma, Singida, Tabora, Shinyanga and Mwanza. Tanzania is racing to be preferred business destination for locals and foreigners as part of strategy to become the middle income country by 2020, he said and added that Tanzania must be proud as this project as it will provide the country with enormous economic development benefits once completed. Railway transportation is an effective means of inland transportation which of late has been adopted by heads of governments of East African regions. According to Kenya Railways, construction project of SGR signed between Kenya and China government which kicked off in January 2015, 90 percent is being funded by Chinese Exim Bank with the government of Kenya financing 10 percent. The project starts from Mombasa to Nairobi then it extends to Naivasha and eventually to Malaba in western Kenya from where it will be linked with the Uganda SGR line and ultimately extended to Kigali-Rwanda. The construction is well underway which is scheduled to be completed in June 2017.

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