by Ben Taylor
Air Tanzania bouncing back from Covid-19?
From September, Air Tanzania began re-starting international flights that had previously been suspended in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. Direct flights to Hahaya (Comoros) resumed in September, followed by flights to Lusaka, Harare and Entebbe in October, and later also flights to Mumbai, India.
The resumption of the route to India is the result of a bilateral agreement between the two countries, establishing an “Air Bubble” connecting the two countries, signed in early November. Scheduled international flights have been suspended in and out of India since March 2020, but the country has similar bubble agreements with around 20 other countries in addition to Tanzania.
ATCL managing director Ladislaus Matindi, said the airline is now operating at between 90 and 95% of its pre-Covid domestic market capacity, well above compared to 20% recorded earlier in 2020, during “the worst of the pandemic”.
A total of 12 out of 19 foreign airlines have resumed their flights to Dar es Salaam after the airlines had previously been grounded since March, according to the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) Terminal III acting manager, Mr Barton Komba. (The Citizen)
Trans-Africa rail connection on the horizon
The prospect of an east-west rail connection across central Africa is under discussion, with the Angolan government said to particularly keen on the plan. The idea is to link Angola and Tanzania via Zambia, using the existing TAZARA railway from Dar es Salaam to Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia. A new 2,100 km line connecting Kapiri Mposhi with the port of Lobito in Angola would complete the route. The two lines would share the same gauge and would ideally connect directly in Kapiri Mposhi.
“In order to have the railway link with Tanzania, the Angolan government would construct a new railway line into Zambia that would further link to the 1,860km Tanzania–Zambia Railway,” said the Angola Ambassador to Tanzania, Sandri De Oliveira Sandri. He added that Angola was counting on “Tanzania’s collaboration in this effort”.
There is currently very little trade between the two countries. In 2015, Tanzania exported less than USD $5m to Angola, and Angola less than USD $500,000 worth of goods to Tanzania. An existing rail link between Angola and Zambia passes through the Democratic Republic of Congo and is in very poor condition – unused since 2015.
Angola’s main interest in the proposal is to simplify trade with China, which is the destination for over USD $25bn each year, more than half of Angola’s total exports – mostly oil. For Tanzania, the new line would provide an alternative route for trade with Europe and the Americas.
Chinese contractors win Central Line contracts
Two Chinese companies have won a tender to construct Tanzania’s fifth lot of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Mwanza to Isaka (near Shinyanga) covering a distance of 341 km.
This was announced by Tanzania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prof Palamagamba Kabudi, at a news briefing in early January, on the eve of a two-day visit to Tanzania by the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. According to Prof Kabudi, the construction which will cost TSh 3 trillion will be handled by China Civil Engineering Construction (CCEC) and China Railway Construction Company (CRCC).
The government through the Tanzania Railway Corporation (TRC) is constructing a 2,561 km SGR network that links Dar es Salaam, Morogoro, Dodoma, Tabora, Mwanza, Kigoma, Katavi and neighbouring countries of Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and DRC.
The overall project is being implemented in phases, with the first round covering 202 km between Dar es Salaam and Morogoro. This was initially scheduled to be ready by November 2020 but heavy rains disrupted construction works. The second phase which is under implementation involves 422 km between Morogoro and Makutupora in Singida Region.
In October 2020, Tanzania government signed a USD $60 million contract with a South Korean firm to supply trains for the standard gauge railway (SGR).