by Ben Taylor
Electric trains for standard-gauge railway to be supply by Hyundai
Hyundai Rotem of South Korea has won a TSh 335.4 bn (USD $296m) contract to supply 80 electric multiple units (EMUs) and 17 electric locomotives to the Tanzania Railway Corporation (TRC). The vehicles will be supplied by 2024.
The electric vehicles will be used on the 546km railway running from Dar es Salaam to Makutupora, recently reconstructed during the first two phases of the Tanzania standard gauge railway project.
The deal follows the Tanzanian government’s plan to modernise its rail network, investing $6.9 billion to do so. Tanzania’s rails were narrower than standard gauge, and trains had to be driven at a slow speed of 30 to 40 km per hour.
With the new rails, electric locomotives and EMUs supplied by Hyundai Rotem will run at a maximum speed of 160 km per hour.
The Minister for Works and Transport, Dr Leonard Chamuriho, added that TRC will receive 42 locomotives by November 2021, part of a previous contract related to the Dar-Morogoro section of the new line.
“Earlier, we procured 42 electric locomotives from Germany and South Korea. Once they arrive in November, the testing of the SGR section from Dar es Salaam to Morogoro will commence,” he said.
Speaking at the event, TRC Director General, Masanja Kadogosa, said the contracts would also involve training local engineers on how to operate the SGR.
“In every contract that we have signed so far, there is a component that compels the teaching of local experts on maintenance, signals and driving. We want more local engineers to be competent in all the aspects just like the way we have our own experts operating Air Tanzania,” he said. Two hundred engineers and ten drivers will go Korea to learn how to operate electric trains, he explained.
New European flights to Tanzania
Two European airlines, Air France and Edelweiss have announced plans to launch new flights to Tanzania. This brings the number of European airlines flying direct passenger flights to Tanzania to three, joining KLM. A fourth airline, Swiss Air, only operates cargo flights to Tanzania.
The Air France flight, set for launch in October 2021, will connect direct from Paris to Zanzibar, with a possible loop to Nairobi. This will take place twice a week.
Edelweiss also plans to launch in October, with twice-weekly flights from Zurich to Kilimanjaro International Airport. One of these weekly flights will also connect to Dar es Salaam, and the other to Zanzibar.
Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) chairman, Mr Wilbard Chambulo, said the tourism industry welcomes Edelweiss Air with open hands.
The global Covid-19 pandemic precipitated a dramatic decline in air travel worldwide, including Tanzania. The latest Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) report shows that passenger traffic to/ from the country suffered a 50% drop in 2020 compared to 2019. An estimated 2.8 million passengers took flights in 2020, the lowest number since 2011. Cargo flights were not affected so significantly. According to the regulator, last year’s cargo volume decreased by 18% to 21,907 tonnes. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that the industry will fully recover by 2024.
World Bank support for rural roads
In the Roads to Inclusion and Socioeconomic Opportunities (RISE) project, will spend $300m to give Tanzanians in rural areas better access to roads in good condition to enable them to access services and economic opportunities.
RISE will upgrade roads with climate resilient approaches in six rural districts across four regions – Geita, Tanga, Lindi and Iringa – promoting a sustainable model for routine maintenance, removing bottlenecks that inhibit the improvement of rural roads, and incorporating people-centered community engagement approaches.
RISE is projected to generate around 35,000 civil works jobs, including 19,000 community-based routine maintenance contracts involving rural communities, with at least 20 percent of these jobs held by women.
“Approval of the project reflects the World Bank’s strong support to Tanzania,” said Hafez Ghanem, Regional Vice President for the World Bank. “We want to continue and even strengthen our partnership with Tanzania in its efforts to fight poverty and ensure a better living standard for its people. [These] investments will help accelerate growth as they expand access to economic opportunities, especially for women and youth.”