Last updateMar, 27 Jan 2015 10pm

Transport: Railway transport set for improvement

Railway transport in the country is set for improvement following the United Kingdom government's pledge to consider a request by the government of Tanzania to provide locomotives and wagons for Dar es Salaam and the central line. The assurance was given by the UK - Deputy Prime Minister, Nicholas William Clegg during an audience with President Jakaya Kikwete in Davos, Switzerland before the end of the World Economic Forum (WEF) summit, which concluded on Saturday.

During discussion, President Kikwete clarified about ongoing efforts by the government to restore railway transportation for Dar es Salaam and up-country regions.

In attendance at the meeting were the Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Eng. Christopher Chiza and the Minister for Transport, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe. It was explained that UK would look into the possibility to give to Tanzania locomotives and wagons which are still in good shape but not currently in use in England.

Illustrating on the haulage challenges facing the country, Dr Mwakyembe said due to lack of engines and carriages in addition to poor state of railway communication, hardly 300,000 tonnes of cargo are transported through railway out of the annual shipment volume of 13.7 million tonnes. The difference in haulage (13.4 million tonnes) is accomplished through road transportation.

"The figures paint a picture of the actual transport situation in Tanzania where road construction is in progress, but the chances for road damage are exceptionally high in a short period of time," Kikwete explained.

Before winding up the discussion, President Kikwete thanked the UK government for continued cooperation with Tanzania in support of development projects in education, health, water, among others. UK is the leading investor in Tanzania.

He also requested the Deputy Prime Minister to give confidence to investors from his country, telling them about the conducive investment climate in Tanzania. "Just your word of appreciation to Tanzania is worth much more than my long speeches to UK potential investors," Mr Kikwete said.

The two leaders also talked about the need for timely conclusion of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between Africa and Europe. They concurred that the debate over the subject was overdue and should be concluded.

However, President Kikwete made it clear that one of the huddles that perhaps caused the delay was the obligation that African young economies should open their markets at the same scale the European counterparts should which was potentially dangerous.

"It is not easy for Tanzanian construction companies for example to bid for a tender that invites their counterparts from the UK because a plain ground may not necessarily have equally skilled players," Mr Kikwete said.

President KIkwete invited Mr Clegg to visit Tanzania and the invitation that he accepted saying that he longed visiting the country that he visited with his wife 13 years ago shortly after marriage.

Meanwhile, a renowned economist has hailed Tanzania's commitment to form an agricultural development bank, saying the move would greatly help to transform the sector.

Prof Jeffrey Sachs said here that no previous efforts by the developed world to improve agriculture in Africa have been more significant than Tanzania's recent decision to form the bank.

The American economist and Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University said it was unfortunate that efforts by the international community had failed to transform the sector and improve the livelihood and income of small-scale farmers in Africa.

Tanzania Daily News/27/01/2014