by Ben Taylor

Fatal air crash raises tough questions

Rescue operations underway some time after the crash.

At 8.53am on Sunday November 6, 2022, a Precision Air passenger flight crashed into Lake Victoria while approaching Bukoba Airport in bad weather. The flight from Dar es Salaam to Bukoba had 39 passengers and four crew members on board, of whom 24 survived and 19 died.

Fishermen in canoes were the first to arrive on the scene and were reportedly crucial in rescuing those who survived the crash. One in particular, Jackson Majaliwa, 20, was celebrated for his heroic role in rushing to the scene and opening the rear door by smashing it with a rowing oar, thus helping passengers seated in the rear of the plane to be rescued.

Speaking the following day, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said President Samia Suluhu Hassan was happy to hear of the efforts made by the fisherman to save lives and ordered that he be recruited to the fire and rescue brigade. He said the fisherman will be trained so that he can participate in various rescue operations.

Kagera regional commissioner Albert Chalamila awarded him with TSh 1 million. “I congratulate this young fisherman who bravely used a paddle to open the door of the plane and managed to save the 24 passengers inside the plane,” said Chalamila.

A report issued three weeks later by the Air Accident Investigation Branch criticised emergency services, describing them as unprepared, ill-equipped and slow to respond.

According to the report, the fire station in Bukoba was equipped with one fire engine and manned by ten firemen who were trained only to carry out rescue operations on land. The firemen were not equipped for offshore operations which were required after the plane crashed into the lake.

The police marine unit was notified 15 minutes after the crash, but only arrived at the scene some hours later as its sole rescue boat was elsewhere on patrol when the accident occurred. When it arrived, divers were unable immediately launch a search and rescue operation because they lacked oxygen, and the vessel did not have enough fuel.

The government said it has heard the concerns regarding emergency services and that it would work on them. “The government, under President Samia Suluhu Hassan, is taking these suggestions and we are going to work on them,” the Minister for Defence and National Service, Mr Innocent Bashungwa, said.

He said the government, through the Disaster Management Department and the Ministry of Defence and National Service, as well as other securities agencies, would come up with ways of working with the private sector to improve rescue operations.

“We are going to make sure we have a database of rescue equipment in government as well as those available in the private sector so that when a disaster occurs, we have the ability and readiness to handle it,” said Mr Bashungwa.


by Ben Taylor

Arusha by-pass launched

Presidents Samia and Uhuru Kenyatta opening the bypass

Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan and her Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta in July officially opened the 42km Arusha bypass, at an estimated cost of TSh 197 billion. The bypass seeks to decongest traffic in Arusha and to promote intra-regional trade, part of the regional Arusha-Moshi-Holili/Taveta-Voi road that links northern Tanzania to the Kenyan port city of Mombasa.

The bypass encircles the city of Arusha on its western and southern outskirts. It is a project initiated by the East African Community (EAC), and included the construction of seven bridges.
President Kenyatta, also the EAC chairperson, said at the launch ceremony that infrastructure development was only second to peace and security as a driver of development.

President Hassan said the multinational road would, among other things, boost the tourism industry even as it promotes trade. She said Tanzania was investing heavily in infrastructure including water transport on Lake Victoria by building ships and rehabilitating ports on the lake to facilitate the movement of people and goods in the region. She urged people living near the key infrastructure projects to make use of the emerging opportunities to uplift themselves and spur economic growth.

Map showing the bypass (

The African Development Bank (AfDB) director general for East Africa Nnenna Lily Nwabufo said the AfDB had spent 217 million U.S. dollars on the Arusha-Voi road with 112 million U.S. dollars allocated to Tanzania and 105 million U.S. dollars allocated to Kenya, adding that the two governments also made contributions to the project.

Focus now is on the next phase of the wider east-African project, namely the construction of a dual-carriageway connecting Arusha with Moshi and on to Holili/Taveta on the border with Kenya. Works and Transport Minister, Makame Mbarawa, announced that Japan, through its international cooperation agency, JICA, will finance the construction of the 110-kilometre highway.

Without giving details, Prof Mbarawa said JICA has pledged to finance upgrading of the road to a dual carriageway. The works will include construction of a new bridge across Kikafu River to replace the current one built in the 1950s.

Uber faces regulatory challenges in Tanzania, suspends services US ride-hailing giant Uber has suspended its services in Tanzania, saying government legislation that raises fares and cuts its commission made it impossible for it to operate. As a result, Uber said, it had made the “difficult decision to pause operations” in the country.

A new pricing order was issued by the Land Transport Regulatory Authority (LATRA) explained the company in a statement. Under the new regulations which come into effect this month, fares doubled to 900 Tanzanian shillings (USD$0.40) per kilometre. Further, the maximum commission for ride-hailing companies was set at 15%, less than half the previous figure of 33%.

The transport regulator said the changes were aimed at maintaining competition and ensuring affordable taxis. It defended the rules by saying that all providers save for Uber had conformed to the new regulations.

Uber arrived in Tanzania in 2016, and had capitalised in the country’s low levels of personal car ownership and a lack of efficient mass transport systems. The company said it remained committed to resuming operations in the long-term if the pricing issue could be resolved.


by Ben Taylor

Tanzanite Bridge opens, connecting Oyster Bay and Dar city centre

Tanzanite Bridge

On February 1, 2022, the Tanzanite Bridge opened to road users. The 1km-long bridge connects Oyster Bay (Kenyatta Road close to Toure Drive) to Dar es Salaam city centre (on Obama Drive formerly Ocean Road) by the Aga Khan Hospital. The bridge’s striking design and construction combines elements of a girder bridge and a cable-stayed bridge to make it lighter.

With four lanes (plus pedestrian sections) and a capacity of 55,000 vehi­cles per day, the bridge is expected to ease congestion on Ali Hassan Mwinyi Road, which handles at least 42,000 vehicles every day. In particular, it will reduce pressure on the bottleneck point of Selander Bridge, originally constructed across the Msimbazi delta in 1929 and replaced in 1980.

The TSh 256 bn (USD $127m) cost of the bridge has been jointly pro­vided by the Tanzania government (17%) and a loan from the govern­ment of South Korea (83%).

The government said the bridge is significant in efforts to address the challenge of traffic congestion in Dar es Salaam. Minister of Works, Transport and Communications, Makame Mbarawa, said the chronic traffic congestion forced the government to come up with plans that included construction of roads and bridges in order to reduce, if not eliminate, the challenge.

Republic of Korea Ambassador to Tanzania, Kim Sun Pyo, said the project will stand as a symbol of success and cooperation between the two countries.

The bridge makes a bold addition to the skyline of Dar es Salaam, and has drawn praise from many. “Magnificent Tanzanite Bridge amazes city dwellers,” read the headline in the Daily News.

A motorcyclist, Richard Waniga told the same paper that he rode all the way from Kigamboni to witness the opening of the bridge. “I reside in Kigamboni; I just came to see the new bridge across the Indian Ocean… it is attractive, I commend the government for completing this project.”

Media commentator, Maggid Mjengwa, posted on Facebook that he was definitely the first person to cross the new bridge by bicycle.

Writing in The Citizen, commentator Charles Makakala offered praise for the bridge’s design. It is “an iconic structure,” he wrote, and “a work of beauty merging contemporary engineering with superb aesthetics.” He also noted that it is “expected to be popular with tourists too, who may wish to pass through and take memorable photos of their stay in the city.”

Nevertheless, Makakala also questioned the rationale behind the bridge. He argues that the money would have been better spent widen­ing Ali Hassan Mwinyi Road by building a second bridge alongside the existing Selander Bridge – that this would have been considerably cheaper. He adds that a bridge further upstream, connecting Kinondoni Hananasif and East Upanga near Muhimbili National Hospital, would have made more sense. And indeed he questions whether the continu­ous expansion of Dar es Salaam road networks should be top priority, when improvements to public transport services desperately need investment and when the government is in the process of relocating to Dodoma.

He concludes that we would be wise “to follow the money”. In particu­lar, he notes that the bridge will significantly raise the value and use of land in Msasani.

Agreement signed on Burundi rail link
In January, the governments of Tanzania and Burundi signed an agree­ment to construct a standard gauge railway between Uvinza in Kigoma to Burundi’s town of Gitega. The 282km line is expected to cost USD $900m. Finance and transport ministers from the two countries signed the deal in Kigoma.

On the part of Tanzania, the project would involve connecting Uvinza-Malagarasi railway section (156km) whereas Burundi would start from Malagarasi to Musongati-Gitega (126km). Finance and Planning Minister Dr Mwigulu Nchemba said the project would lead to opening business opportunities not only between the two countries, but also for other neighbouring nations. He said the two governments have begun to look for sources of funds to finance the project.

Burundian Minister for infrastructures, Works and Settlements, Dr Deogratius Nsanganiyumwami, said the railway will help to transport over three million tonnes of minerals from Burundi and one million tonne of other cargo, a move which would help stimulate industrial growth, agriculture and economy at large.

Commentators applauded the agreement, arguing that the railway will play a major role in integrating markets and increasing trade, not only across Tanzania and Burundi but also beyond, and that this would help to unlock economic potential in these two nations.

Transportation expert, Prof Zacharia Mganilwa of the National Institute of Transport, noted that the agreement would mean that Burundian cargo from/to Dar es Salaam Port would be transported directly to or from the port by railway. “This helps to avoid cargo double handling which increases transport costs, something that goes further to increase prices of goods and services,” he explained. He added that transporting cargo via railway was also cheaper than road, a situation which would also contribute to decreasing transport costs.

Meanwhile, work continues on construction of the standard gauge railway (SGR) connecting Dar es Salaam, Morogoro, Dodoma, Tabora, Mwanza and Kigoma. The government expects a passenger service to begin operating between Dar es Salaam and Morogoro later in 2022. Work is also underway on other sections of the track, along with efforts to improve connectivity between the railway and the port at Dar es Salaam.


by Ben Taylor

Air Tanzania grows, and struggles
Tanzania’s national airline, Air Tanzania (ATCL), maintained the rapid pace of growth in its fleet with the delivery of two new Airbus A220-300 aircraft in October 2021, in addition to the two similar craft received in 2018. Each plane holds 120 economy seats and 12 business class seats.

A week later, Tanzania made a down payment of USD $258.7m for the purchase of five additional new aircraft for the airline. The order includes cargo planes, which are all expected to be delivered before the end of 2023.

Aviation industry sources told The EastAfrican newspaper that the funds were approved by the current government despite heavy losses incurred by the carrier under a revival programme initiated by former president John Magufuli and the effects of Covid-19 pandemic.

The planes, once they arrive in the country, will raise Air Tanzania’s current fleet size to 16. Air Tanzania also operates two Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners, two other Airbus A220-300s and five Bombardier Q-400/ Dash 8-400s. The aircraft are owned by the Government and ATCL is leasing them.

Further, Air Tanzania announced four new regional routes to be launched in November 2021 from Dar es Salaam to Bujumbura, Ndola, Lubumbashi and Nairobi. The first flight to Nairobi touched down on November 26, fifteen years after the last Air Tanzania flights to the Kenyan capital. Flights are scheduled twice daily between Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.

Nevertheless, Air Tanzania continues to face major challenges. The Coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on the travel industry across the world and Tanzania is no exception. As a result, the company has ruled out the possibility of breaking even in 2022 contrary to their initial plans.

In October, the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) listed ATCL as having borrowed money without going through the correct approval process. Specifically, the committee concluded that the company had borrowed just under TSh 900m without the approval of the Ministry of Finance as required by law.

The PAC’s investigations were prompted by an audit report of the Controller and Auditor General (CAG), Mr Charles Kichere, released in March, which found that ATCL had incurred losses worth TSh 150 billion in the five years to 2020. Mr Kichere said ATCL aircraft travelling abroad run the risk of being impounded because of the huge debts and the related interests.

Roads and bridges in Dar es Salaam
In December, President Samia Suluhu Hassan officially opened a newly-widened 4.3 km section of New Bagamoyo Road, phase II, linking Morocco junction and Mwenge junction, as part of the government strategy to decongest the city. She stated that the government will continue with the efforts to strengthen road funds as well as securing adequate funding for the maintenance of all roads in the country.

Works and Transport Minister, Prof Makame Mbarawa said the Mwenge-Morocco section had been constructed at a cost of TSh 71.8bn, funded by the government of Japan.

“The completion of widening of New Bagamoyo road will not only reduce traffic congestion but also reduce accidents to the users and ensure smooth transportation to and from Dar es Salaam city,” said Eng Mbarawa.

Other road projects in the city experienced slight delays however, that meant they were not able to officially open on schedule in 2021.
This includes the newly-expanded eight-lane highway linking Kimara in Dar es Salaam to Kibaha in the Coast Region. The government explained the delay in completing the project, citing some adjustments in the project as the main factor. “We saw the need to construct feeder roads, a bridge at Mbezi Kwa Yusufu and a flyover at Goba-Mbezi to ease traffic plying the Goba-Segerea route,” he said. This is expected to delay the official inauguration of the road by several months.

New Selander Bridge in Dar es Salaam, linking Oyster Bay to the city centre near the Aga Khan hospital (GS E&C)

More imminent is the launch of the New Selander Bridge in Dar es Salaam, linking Oyster Bay with Barack Obama Drive (formerly Ocean Road) in the city centre near the Aga Khan hospital. Construction was completed in December 2021, leaving only minor works (security barriers) remaining before the bridge can open.

At a cost of TSh 256 bn, this is the largest development project funded by the South Korean government in Africa. It measures 670m in length and combines the characteristics of a girder bridge and a cable-stayed bridge to make it lighter. “Basically the bridge the construction has been completed and the construction of the barriers will be completed soon. We could have allowed one side to be used but we decided to wait until we are done with the barriers,” said the Tanroads’ Chief Executive Officer, Rogatus Mativila.

Once open, the bridge is expected to radically improve connections between the Msasani peninsula and the city centre. It will have the capacity to carry 55,000 vehicles per day, easing congestion at the old Selander Bridge, which has been a major bottleneck for many years.

Bagamoyo back on the table?
President Samia Suluhu Hassan has taken steps to revive the stalled Bagamoyo Port and Special Economic Zone (BSEZ) project, inviting Chinese investors back to the table.

Previously, under President Kikwete in 2013, the government had reached agreement with the investors – China Merchants Holdings International (CMHI) and Oman’s State General Reserve Fund – for the project, costing USD $10bn. However, in 2016, President Magufuli dismissed the it, saying it was exploitative and inappropriate. He said the Chinese financiers had set “tough conditions that can only be accepted by mad people,” and argued that the project was incompatible with the ongoing expansion of Dar es Salaam port.

Speaking at the Summit of the National Business Council, President Hassan announced “the good news that we have started talks to revive the whole project. We are going to start talks with the investors that came for the project with the aim of opening it for the benefit of our nation.”
It would be the largest port in East Africa, and was a key component in China’s $900-billion Belt and Road Initiative, an ambitious transnational infrastructure building programme.

Analysts speaking in responses requested anonymity in reporting their views. One stated that the investors were unable to respond to some of the “gravely false statements” by those against the project because the statements were being put forward by senior figures who they would not want to engage into tussles with. Another argued that the whole project could create as many 270,000 jobs in its first phase.

ACT-Wazalendo party leader Zitto Kabwe shared similar sentiments, saying by cancelling the BSEZ, Tanzania was simply losing its international reputation to its strategic partners like China and Oman. “The Bagamoyo project was a very important venture for the Chinese President’s Belt and Road Initiative. The failure of this project indicated a diplomatic weakness of our country, which is costly for the development of our country,” he says.

Renowned economist, Prof Samuel Wangwe, said what Tanzanian negotiators needed was to know what value addition the country wanted by developing Bagamoyo Port. “It’s about ensuring that the development of the port complements the Dar es Salaam port,” he said.


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.”


by Ben Taylor

Air Tanzania losses
The National Audit Office report presented to parliament in April 2021 reported that Air Tanzania Ltd (ATCL) recorded a loss of TSh 60bn for the financial year 2019-2020. The Controller and Auditor General (CAG), Charles Kichere noted also that the airline had been making losses annually for the past five years, adding up to a total loss over this time of over TSh 150bn. This is despite having received additional equipment in terms of aircrafts that were bought by the government to aid the company’s performance.

The period under review was one of the most difficult one in the aviation industry due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic which forced most countries to go into lockdowns, and many airlines – includ­ing Air Tanzania – to suspend flights. Passenger numbers fell dra­matically worldwide. As an example of these challenges, in March, Air Tanzania suspended what should have been the airline’s maiden flight to Guangzhou, China. The airline cited Covid-19 control measures put in place by Chinese local authorities.

Since 2015, the government has purchased new eight aircraft consisting of two Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners, two Airbus A220-300 models and four Bombardiers Q400. These aircraft are leased by the government to ATCL. Partly as a result of the pandemic, these aircraft have been under­utilised, while the government continues to charge ATCL the full lease rate. Nevertheless, the Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa announced that the government had completed payment for three further new aircraft, which were due to arrive in the financial year 2021-2022.

Analysts cautioned that profit-and-loss figures are not the only measure of an airline’s performance. Even without the Coronavirus pandemic, a new (or re-launched) airline should not expect to make a profit for sev­eral years, if at all, they noted. Aviation expert, Juma Fimbo, pointed out that the contribution made by national airlines to the national economy is more significant in terms of improved transport links fuelling other economic activities than the airline’s own profitability.

Ubungo flyover launched, named for Chief Secretary Kijazi
The newly constructed Ubungo road interchange was launched on February 24 by President Magufuli, who announced that it was to be called the ‘Kijazi Interchange’. This was in memory and recognition of John Kijazi, the former Chief Secretary (the country’s most senior civil servant), who died in February.

The interchange has three levels, at the intersections of Morogoro Road, Sam Nujoma Road and Nelson Mandela road, close to the Ubungo bus terminal for up-country bus connections. The middle section of the interchange, on Morogoro road, is 260m metres long and 8.9 meters high, while the top level is 700m long and 16.3m high. All three levels of the roads have six lanes.


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.
(The Citizen)

Chinese contractors win Central Line contracts

Map showing the existing central line railway line due for rehabilitation (dashed line) and proposed extension into Rwanda and Burundi (Map -US National Park Service)

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).


by Ben Taylor

Progress with financing for Standard Gauge Railway
The government has made further progress towards raising finance for work on upgrading the Central Line railway, after signing a loan agreement with Standard Chartered Bank Tanzania for $1.46 billion.

The money will go towards the estimated $14 billion cost of the project, which involves replacing the existing colonial-era line from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma and beyond with standard gauge track. Specifically, the Ministry of Finance and Planning said in a statement that the loan would fund the section from Dar to Matukupora, near Dodoma.

“Standard Chartered Tanzania acted as global co-ordinator, bookrunner and mandated lead arranger on the facility agreement that is the largest foreign currency financing raised by the ministry of finance to date,” the statement said, adding that most of the financing would come from Sweden’s and Denmark’s export credit agencies.

The loan repayments are spread over a 20-year timespan, but no details of interest rates were made public.

Road bridge brought down by floods

Kiegeya Bridge near Dumila destroyed by floods

Floods in early March brought down a major road bridge on the main road between Morogoro and Dodoma. This effectively left travellers and traders without a simple road connection between the country’s economic and political.

Following the collapse of the Kiegeya Bridge near Dumila, bus operators were forced to divert via Iringa to connect between Dodoma and Dar es Salaam and individual travellers had to pay higher ticket prices. Those transporting cargo by truck had to wait for a temporary bridge to be completed. This applied also to those connecting from Dar through Dodoma to other major towns including Singida, Tabora, Mwanza, Kigoma, Geita and Shinyanga, and to Rwanda and Burundi.

The Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa, while touring ongoing work to build a temporary replacement bridge, ordered that the acting manager for Tanzania Roads Agency (Tanroads) in Morogoro, Mr Godfrey Andalwisye, be removed from office. The Prime Minister felt that negligence by Tanroads engineers, failing to conduct routine checks on infrastructure, had contributed to the collapse of the bridge.

Mr Majaliwa asked Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF) and road engineers in Morogoro and Dodoma to join their forces and ensure that they find an alternative route so that vehicles can start passing the area as construction work on the bridge continues. A temporary crossing was brought into use a few days later.

Dar commuter rail route expansion proposed
The Tanzania Railway Corporation (TRC) has proposed expanding its network of commuter rail services in and around Dar es Salaam. Their plan involves the construction of six new lines, in addition to the three lines currently providing services to commuters on sections of the Central line and TAZARA line.

The proposed new lines would link Mikocheni-Ubungo-Tazara (route A), City Centre-airport (route B), Mwenge-Bagamoyo (route C), Pugu­Kibaha-Kunduchi (route D), Mtoni-Tabata-Ubungo-Mwenge (route E) and City Centre-Kigamboni via Nyerere Bridge (route F). A feasibility study a preliminary design were completed in December 2019, according to TRC.

TRC’s director of Corporate Planning and Investment, Ms Nzeyimana Dyegula, noted that rapid population growth in Dar es Salaam meant increasing need for commuter transport services.

“The annual population growth in Dar city is an average of 6.1%,” she explained, “with expectation of reaching around 10 million people come 2030 from current six million. The increasing population will also need transport.”

Approximately 6 million passengers (around 20,000 per day) used the existing commuter rail routes in Dar es Salaam in 2018.

Another legal and financial blow to Air Tanzania
Longstanding disputes between Tanzania and various international suppliers and financiers have caused multiple problems in recent years, hampering the revival of the Air Tanzania (ATCL) spearheaded by President Magufuli. The latest case came when a UK court ruled that ATCL will have to pay a Liberian company $30 million in compensation for an aborted aircraft leasing deal.

The case involved a 2013 aircraft-leasing deal from Willis Trading, signed by former ATCL managing director David Mattaka. UK High Court Judge Christopher Butcher ordered ATCL to pay the money plus interest that reportedly amounts to $10 million to the Liberian company.

Willis Trading went to court to enforce its claim after ATCL pulled out of the lease contract and subsequent compensation agreement in 2014. The government had challenged the deal which President Magufuli has publicly condemned.

Mr Mattaka was in March 2016 charged in court with abuse of office and abuse of position for signing the lease without complying with the relevant procurement legislation. The case is still pending in court in Tanzania.

The UK court rejected ATCL’s efforts to shrug off the debt by blaming its former CEO Mattaka.

The lease agreement stems from the Tanzanian government’s 2007 decision to expand and modernize the fleet of Air Tanzania which it partially owned then. The Ministry of Infrastructure Development gave permission to Mr Mattaka to lease aircraft as an interim measure until certain Airbus aircraft were available starting in 2011.

The agreement required the airline to pay $370,000 (TSh 851m) per
month for the used Airbus airplane. But work needed to be done on the plane, which operated flights only between May and December 2008 before being grounded again for additional maintenance work.

According to the judgement, after ATCL stopped paying for the lease, which resulted in a debt due to Wallis of more than $45 million, the parties reached a settlement in August 2013, in which the government agreed to pay $42 million (TSh 96.6bn). After making six payments up until October 2014, totalling more than $26 million (TSh 59.8bn), the government stopped making payments.

Previous cases have seen new or recently-purchased Air Tanzania aircraft impounded in Canada and South Africa following court decisions in favour of companies that have financial claims against the government of Tanzania.


by Ben Taylor

Growth and growing pains for Air Tanzania

The fleet of aircraft operated by Air Tanzania (ATCL) continues to grow, with the arrival in December of a new Bombardier Q400. This is the eighth aircraft (two Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners, two Airbus A-220-300 and four Bombardier Q400s) to be purchased under the administration of President Magufuli, who has committed to reviving the national airline, with plans (and orders) in place to expand the fleet to eleven.

The plane’s arrival took place a day after President Magufuli had announced that the aircraft, which had previously been impounded in Canada in November had been released. The President did not give details of what was done that led to the release of the aircraft.

According to Foreign Affairs Minister, Palamagamba Kabudi, the seizure was because of a dispute between Tanzania and a South African farmer, Hermanus Steyn, “seeking compensation for a farm and other properties that was nationalized in the 1980s”. Mr Steyn had filed a claim in Canada.

This was the third seizure incident of an Air Tanzania aircraft, and the second in Canada. The third took place in August, when South African authorities impounded an Airbus 220-300 leased by Air Tanzania.

In October, ATCL indefinitely suspended flights to and from South Africa. The reason for the suspension was not disclosed, though it followed on from a temporary suspension that Minister of Works, Transport and Communication, Isack Kamwelwe, had described as being “due to xenophobic violence”. However, suspicions remain that the court action in South Africa may have played a role. The temporary suspension was put in place in September, the day after the impounded plane was released.

The Dar es Salaam-Johannesburg route was launched in June 2019, with ATCL operating four flights a week. The maiden flight on the route saw a delegation from the national carrier turned away at the Oliver Tambo International Airport, blamed on a “miscommunication” between the airport and immigration officials. Two Tanzanian Ministers, several ATCL officials and journalists were denied entry into the airport for a welcome ceremony.

Progress with rail revival
Tanzania Railway Corporation (TRC) started operating a new scheduled train from Dar es Salaam to Moshi via Tanga in December 2019, following successful trial trip one week earlier.

TRC is restarting the route after 25 years with trains that will have eight passenger wagons and the capacity to transport 700 passengers.

Earlier in 2019, freight services connecting Tanga and Moshi were restarted, with the hope of reducing heavy transport of cement on the trunk roads connecting Arusha and Moshi with the coast. The route was briefly suspended in October following rain damage.

At the launch event for the freight route, the Prime Minister indicated that the long-disused section of the line between Moshi and Arusha would also be restored. TRC has also reported that a feasibility study for extending the line as far as Musoma has been completed.

The upgrade of the Central Line to standard gauge (SGR) has also seen progress. TRC Director General, Mr Masanja Kadogosa, said the construction of the first SGR section from Dar es Salaam from Morogoro has reached 72% completion while the Morogoro to Dodoma section has reached 22%. TSh 2.1 billion from internal sources has financed this work.

New ship to be called “MV Mwanza Hapa Kazi Tu”
Minister of Works, Transport and Communication, Isack Kamwelwe, has announced that a new ship under construction in Mwanza is to be called MV Mwanza Hapa Kazi Tu.

The new ship, costing TSh 89 billion, will be 92.6 metres long, 17 metres wide and 11.2 metres high, with a carrying capacity of 1200 passengers and 400 tonnes of cargo. Upon completion it will be owned and operated by the government, plying the waters of Lake Victoria.

‘Hapa Kazi Tu’ is a slogan President John Magufuli used during 2015 presidential campaign. The slogan translates as Just work, nothing else.
The minister explained that there is an official government committee that devises names for government projects.

While on a campaign trail in 2015, President John Magufuli promised to build a new ship to replace MV Bukoba which was involved in a tragic accident 1996.

Looks don’t matter at Air Tanzania, says Minister
Deputy Minister of Works, Transport and Communication, Atastashta Nditiye sparked laughter in Parliament by stating that the government does not use beauty as a key criterion when hiring staff for Air Tanzania. He was responding to an MP calling on the airline to emulate other carriers by hiring staff with aesthetic qualities that attract clients to improve the airline’s visibility.

Nditiye explained there is a well laid down procedure that governs the hiring of staff at ATCL including that the applicant must be fluent in both Kiswahili and English and must have a certificate in either airport ground service or in-flight service. “Above all they must be of good conduct which has to be proven,” said Mr Nditiye.


by Ben Taylor

Dar Airport Terminal III open
President John Pombe Magufuli opened the Terminal III building at the Julius Nyerere International Airport on August 1, 2019. The new terminal has the capacity to handle 24 large planes concurrently, and six million passengers annually.

Together with the other two terminals, the entire airport will now be able to handle more than 8 million passengers each year. This represents a significant increase on the airport’s busiest year to date: 2016, when 2.5 million passengers passed through. It is expected that Terminal III will handle international flights, while Terminal II will in future only operate domestic flights. The old international terminal is now due for refurbishment and technical upgrading.

The construction of the new facility cost the government a reported TSh 705 billion (US$ 282m). Of this amount, the Tanzanian government paid 15% in cash, with the balance provided in the form of loans from a range of lenders including HSBC bank. “Terminal three has been built using taxpayers money. As it stands, they need to feel the benefit of their money,” noted the President. He therefore directed the Works, Transport and Communication Ministry to ensure that all business at the new premises should be Tanzanian-owned.

Construction of the new terminal building, by Dutch contractors BAM Group, began in 2014. It had initially been due to be completed in 2016, but this was delayed, reportedly due to shortage of funds and a dispute over VAT payments. President Magufuli ordered a probe into the airport project in February 2018 after project costs and construction schedules were derailed.

Terminal I was originally constructed in 1956 by the colonial govern­ment, with capacity of handling 500,000 passengers a year. Terminal II, with capacity of handling 1.5 million passengers, opened in 1984. (The Citizen, The Guardian)

Hello Mumbai, London to follow soon?
The inauguration of Terminal III at JNIA came two weeks after the relaunch of long-haul flights to Mumbai, India by the national carrier Air Tanzania. A month earlier, the national carrier launched a direct flight from Dar es Salaam to Johannesburg in South Africa. This brings to seven ATCL’s number of international routes.

Passengers on the inaugural flight included the Minister for Works, Transport and Communications, Mr Isaak Kamwelwe, senior govern­ment officials, ATCL staff and journalists.

Mr Kamwelwe expressed optimism that the new route would help in cutting the time spent by passengers who had to connect through Nairobi, Dubai and South Africa. He added that the Mumbai route is of great importance in cementing relationships between Tanzania and India, noting that it would spur the growth of tourism and trade between the two countries. “India has high potential as a tourists source market, and we must take advantage of this by ensuring that we maxi­mally utilize the available opportunities,” the minister said.

The Mumbai route – to be operated three times a week – heralds the airline’s foray into the Asian market. Other planned routes are Bangkok, Thailand, and the Chinese city of Guangzhou.

Air Tanzania spokesperson Josephat Kagirwa said they are also plan­ning flights to London, to Lagos in Nigeria and Accra, Ghana. In addi­tion, a route to Nairobi, Kenya is anticipated.

Significant moves towards establishing the London route have also been completed. The airline has secured three landing slots per week for London’s Gatwick Airport. It is expected that flights will connect both Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro Airports with Gatwick on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday each week.

Before this route can begin operations, ATCL need to secure European Union safety standards certification. If Britain leaves the EU later this year as planned, this will require two signatory bodies to approve instead of one: a double headache for the airline, which only regularised its membership with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently, by paying back owed membership fees. However, ATCL has already completed the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA).

Currently, there is no direct route from London to Tanzania. British Airways stopped operating the route after four decades in 2013, explaining that it was unable to do so at a profit.

Bagamoyo port development stalled
Talks on a proposed $10 billion development of a port at Bagamoyo have stalled. According to Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) director gen­eral Deusdedit Kakoko, this is because investors’ conditions were likely to deny Tanzania maximum benefit from the project. “The conditions include investors’ demand that they be allowed to set charges for cargo passing through the port. They also want tax exemption on various goods in addition to being compensated for any losses incurred during implementation of the project,” he told The Citizen newspaper in early May.

An initial agreement on the project was signed in 2013 during a cer­emony witnessed by President Jakaya Kikwete and Chinese President Xi Jinping. The project was to have been executed by China and Oman’s State General Reserve Fund (SGRF).

In November 2017, SGRF announced that the project would entail the construction in phases of a maritime port built to international stand­ards. The first phase was planned to include the construction of four berths, two of which were to have been set aside for containers, one for multiple uses and another for support services. However, these plans now seem to be in doubt.

According to Mr Kakoko, it was odd that the developers sought tax exemptions on the grounds there was insufficient cargo in the country. “If the country has insufficient cargo, why do they seriously consider Tanzania for investment in railways and ports? The condition requiring the government to compensate the companies in case of losses is the worst. Who knows that they will incur losses? This demand can render the country bankrupt,” he said.

According to him, the doors for discussions were still wide open, noting that the interests of Tanzania will have to take priority. “We are waiting for them. We will be ready for equal participation provided they relax their conditions. They should just bring in the money and be ready to share it with the country, but they should forget about getting 100 per cent preferential treatment,” said Mr Kakoko.

A month later, the stakes were raised further when President Magufuli weighed in on a related matter. The President expressed his strong opposition to the proposed Bagamoyo Special Economic Zone, a 3,000-hectare port and industrial city north of Dar es Salaam.

According to the President, allowing the Bagamoyo initiative to pro­gress would halt expansion of other ports including Tanga and Mtwara, and would entail long tax breaks for investors in the special economic zone. The government has also argued that it would also lose some sovereignty in the management of the project.

The President suggested corruption may have been involved in the government’s payment of billions of shillings as compensation for local residents to create room. “This project has very difficult conditions. They are exploitative and awkward. We can’t allow it,’’ said President Magufuli.

China is in the process of establishing transport and trade infrastructure across Africa, Asia and Europe under the ambitious ‘Belt and Road Initiative’. The Bagamoyo investment was an important part of this global strategy to strengthen the country’s trade and other interests, drawing on the ancient Silk Road trading route.

Opposition leader Zitto Kabwe said President Magufuli was opposed to the project from the beginning. “The conditions he is saying is just diversionary,” said Mr Kabwe, adding that the project would put Tanzania in the world maritime map.

The Speaker of Parliament, Job Ndugai who has publicly expressed sup­port for the Bagamoyo project and challenged the government to roll it out, yesterday backtracked. “We didn’t have information about the stringent conditions that were attached to the project, as was explained by the President,” he said.

Horrific petrol tanker explosion in Morogoro
More than 80 people have been confirmed dead and 50 others serious injured after a fuel tanker exploded into flames at Msamvu in Morogoro town on August 10. Many of the dead were reportedly motor cyclists who were at the scene collecting the spilled fuel and food vendors who conduct their business along the Dar-Morogoro Highway.

The accident occurred about 200 metres from the Msamvu Bus Station in Morogoro town. “The lorry overturned and spilled fuel over 100 metres along the road,’’ said Morogoro Regional Commissioner, Dr Steven Kebwe.
President John Magufuli said he received the news with deep shock. “I have been saddened to learn such a big number of Tanzanians who lost their lives due to the accident. I am extending my condolences to the families of those, who lost their beloved ones and I wish a speedy recov­ery for those, who were injured in the accident,” he said in a statement.