At a recent meeting the Southern Africa Transport Commission allocated most of its available funds for a programme of rehabilitation and expansion of the Tazara railway line, while the EEC is to provide 10 million dollars for a maintenance programme involving the relaying mechanically of rails and sleepers. Funds are also being sought for a 17 million dollar project to weld the bolted rail joints installed by the Chinese and 15 million dollars for the repair of 30 landslides along the line identified by Australian consultants. Sweden, several other European countries and Canada have expressed an interest in helping to finance the rehabilitation programme.
The importance of the Tazara line has increased since the Mozambique Government has had difficulty in improving the rail links from Zambia to Maputo and Beira, partly because of the activities of dissident groups. In recent years Tazara has been operating at only a fraction of its full capacity of 2 million tonnes, carrying only about 700,000 tonnes a year. This has been due both to failures in the operation of the railway and to difficulties at Dar es Salaam port. Traffic over the line has been slowed by failures of the track, which may be due to the original design and construction, but are more likely to be the result of inadequate maintenance, a consequence of economies enforced by low revenues. In addition, there have been persistent troubles with the locomotives. The original Chinese-built locomotives are now being replaced by new ones from West Germany, which has provided finance for 14 of them, of which the first was handed over on 31st. May. These more powerful locomotives will be better able to work the steep sections of the line, where trains have at present to be double-headed’. The West German Government has begun talks on funding a further 11 locomotives.
The congestion at Dar es Salaam port has been mentioned in previous numbers of the Bulletin (e.g. Bulletin No.7 of December 1975) and has limited its use and reduced traffic on the Tazara line. There have, however, been improvements in the operation of the port and the Burundi Government has announced that it is satisfied with its working and with the operation of the Central line. It has therefore removed the special tax which it imposed in 1979 to recover the cost of having to air-freight goods from Dar es Salaam. A group of Zambian exporters stated that they had been encouraged to continue to use Dar es Salaam port by the reduction in cases of theft. At the same time, however, Zambia is developing a route for moving copper to Mombasa which avoids Tanzania by using a ship on Lake Tanganyika.
The Tanzanian Harbours Authority have disclosed plans for further major development of Dar es Salaam port by the conversion of berths nos.9, 10 and 11 for containers, building a container depot in Ubungo, setting up a grain silo and installing modern cargo handling equipment.
Tanzania’s link to the south-west is across Lake Nyasa by the m.v. Songea. There has recently been sharp press criticism of a reported loss of Sh8.25 million by this vessel due to underutilisation. The Sunday News asked why, since it is an area with the worst transport problems, the ship is not working at full capacity. Were there no proper studies done when the ship was purchased in 1975, or is the potential cargo not being organised?
In January the National Transport Corporation began to receive the first consignment of road vehicle rehabilitation kits, forming part of a programme financed by the EEC to rehabilitate 600 trucks and build 700 vehicle bodies. Meantime, the first stage of the British financed and built Makambako to Songea road is complete (Nakambako to Wino). Britain is providing a further shs.256 million for the second stage. The full length of 322kms. is expected to be finished late in 1985.
Public transport in Dar es Salaam has been improved by the licensing of the hitherto illegal private buses (‘dala dala’). These are now allowed to operate on the Dar es Salaam Bus Company (UDA) routes by paying a licence fee. The private buses charge a flat rate of shs.5 as against the UDA fare of shs.1. In the first week of July it was reported that the Ulii had been forced to restrict its operations to the periods from 6 to 9 in the morning and noon to 6 in the evening due to shortage of fuel and the National Bus Company (KAMATA) suspended all its services from 29th. June. Supplies of diesel were expected to arrive in Dar es Salaam in the second week in July.
The heavy vehicle assembly plant at Kibaha (35km. from Dar es Salaam) has officially been inaugurated by the Prime Minister. The plant was completed last year at a cost of shs.59 million land was built with technical assistance from SAAB of Sweden, which holds 10% of the shares, the rest being held by the Tanzania Automobile Manufacturing Company (TAMCO). The plant assembles Scania trucks from imported kits and has an annual capacity to assemble 1,200 vehicles, or up to 2,000 vehicles by working two shifts. The actual rate of production at present is about 350 per annum.
The Leyland Albion assembly plant in Dar es Salaam is in greater difficulties and may have to suspend production because of its inability to obtain a foreign exchange allocation to buy supplies of components and doubts over the renewal of a British Export Credit Guarantee. There is a national shortage of Leyland spares, which will further threaten the already precarious national transport system. There has been a provisional agreement with Leyland Albion to become Tanzania’s partner in the establishment of a local four-wheel drive vehicle assembly plant, but Japanese motor companies are showing considerable interest and may be willing to offer a package on easy loan terms, which would be very attractive to Tanzania. Will this be another example of Britain’s failure to appreciate that aid to developing countries creates employment at home?