Peter White, who wrote about the resumption of traffic on the railway line to Nairobi in our issue No.20, has sent us an extract from ‘Developing Railways l985’, which paints a much more positive picture about the Tanzania to Zambia Railway (TAZAIIA) than has been the norm during recent years. In the article the General Manager, Major General C.J. Nyirenda, writes:
‘The line was designed to handle 2 million tonnes of freight annually and in each of the first two years of operation some 1.2 million tonnes were hauled. Thereafter freight traffic declined to 752,000 tonnes in 1980-81, then increased each year to attain 970,000 tonnes in 1983-84. Passenger traffic rose from 829,000 journeys in the first full year of operation to 1.4 million in 1979-80. Then, with a reduction in the number of passenger trains from six to one pair a week in 1982, traffic dropped to 564,000 in 1982-83. The following year saw the train service doubled and traffic started to pick up again.
The decline in TAZARA’s traffic from 1980-81 onwards was occasioned by three major factors. In the first half of 1979 there were landslides following unusually heavy and prolonged rainfall, resulting in extensive formation failures over a key mountainous section of the line. This was followed by the blowing up of two major bridges towards the end of 1979 in the Zimbabwe war of independence. At the same time, there was a serious decline in the motive Power position due to low availability of the original fleet of 97 class DFH2 diesel-hydraulic locomotives…
During fiscal 1983-84 TAZARA made considerable headway in recovery programmes, particularly motive power. By the end of May 1984 a total of 18 DFH2 locomotives had been re-engined and the availability of these averaged 75% compared with 3576 for the original units. On the strength of these encouraging results an order has been placed for a further 22 engines repower eight main line and six shunting locos. Meanwhile, delivery of the 14 diesel electric 6 was completed during the year. The improved motive power position has been reflected in improved haulage capacity. At the end of the 1983-84 financial year, TAURA had carried 950,000 tonnes of freight and 1 million passengers. Turnround of wagons and transit times on the TAZARA system have improved from an average of 28 days to 12 days, As a result, we expect to achieve an operating surplus of shs.16.9 million, the first annual profit recorded.’