In a recent virtual meeting held on October 31st, 2023, the Board of Directors of the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) convened to discuss significant developments and initiatives regarding TAZARA’s operations.
The meeting, chaired by Mr. Stephen Mbewe, representing Eng. Fredrick Mwalusaka, and co-chaired by Prof. Godius W. Kahyarara, Permanent Secretaries responsible for Transport in Zambia and Tanzania, addressed several critical topics shaping the future of this vital transportation link.
The meeting commenced with a comprehensive review of TAZARA’s financial performance for the fiscal year 2022/2023. TAZARA proudly announced a substantial improvement in its revenue, recording a remarkable 10% increase compared to the previous fiscal year.
This growth was primarily attributed to a surge in the average haul following the reopening of the Chambeshi Bridge in September 2022.
During the 2022/2023 fiscal year, TAZARA generated an impressive revenue of US$26.78 million, marking a significant increase from the US$24.280 million earned in the prior fiscal year (2021/2022).
However, the railway faced challenges in achieving its traffic volume targets, partly due to temporary closures at the Chambeshi Bridge and Kilometre 211, as well as equipment reliability issues.
Despite these challenges, freight volumes transported on the TAZARA line decreased by 3.7%, from 337,475 metric tons in FY 2021/2022 to 324,903 metric tons in FY 2022/2023.
Passenger traffic also witnessed a 1% decrease, with 2,710,104 passengers in the fiscal year 2022/2023 compared to 2,738,452 passengers in the preceding fiscal year. The limited availability of train coaches remained a challenge in passenger services.
However, there was a silver lining as interstate passenger travel between Tanzania and Zambia increased by an impressive 14%, surpassing the target by 7%, thanks to the reopening of the Chambeshi Bridge and rising bus fares.
Various passenger trains, such as the Udzungwa Shuttle in Tanzania and the Dar es Salaam City Commuter train, experienced varying ridership trends, with some showing growth while others experienced decreases.
The Board acknowledged the efforts of TAZARA’s management in improving performance and emphasized the importance of innovation in sustaining these positive trends.
Management received commendation for engaging a second private operator through Open Access arrangements.
The Board noted that 16% of earnings from Open Access are currently allocated to railway infrastructure maintenance and recommended increasing this to 20% to enhance track reliability, thus ensuring the railway’s long-term sustainability.
The Board recognized the commitment of the Heads of State from Tanzania and Zambia, H.E. Dr. Samia Suluhu Hassan and H.E. Mr. Hakainde Hichilema, respectively, to revitalize TAZARA operations with the involvement of Chinese investors.
China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), a subsidiary of China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC), has been officially introduced as the company for concession negotiations. A proposal is expected by the end of October 2023.
The meeting concluded on a positive note, highlighting progress and ongoing efforts to strengthen TAZARA’s role as a vital transportation link in the region.
This marks a significant step towards the continued growth and development of TAZARA and the enhancement of regional connectivity.
This information is contained in a statement released by Narco M.N.S. Mabala, Corporation Secretary, TAZARA.