By Hilda Mhagama | March 19, 2024

TANZANIA: AS Tanzania commemorates three years since President Samia Suluhu Hassan assumed office, significant progress has been made in the implementation of crucial infrastructure projects, notably the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).

President Samia’s commitment to continue the legacy of her predecessor, the late President John Magufuli, has propelled the SGR project forward, marking a milestone in Tanzania’s development agenda.

Initiated during the fifth-phase government, led by President Magufuli, the SGR project has seen substantial advancement, reaching completion by 36 per cent.

Under President Samia’s leadership, the momentum has been sustained, with a focus on investing intellectual and material resources to ensure the project’s continuity.

The SGR, one of Tanzania’s largest infrastructure endeavors, aims to revolutionize transportation by reducing travel costs and time, enhancing access to social services, and facilitating trade both domestically and with neighboring countries.

With an estimated cost of 10 billion US dollars, equivalent to 23.3tri/-, the project spans key locations including Dar es Salaam, Morogoro, Dodoma, Mwanza, and beyond, connecting Tanzania to Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda.

Tanzania Railways Corporation (TRC) Director General Masanja Kadogosa emphasized the project’s national significance, describing it as a sacrifice for the country and future generations.

Mr Kadogosa commended President Samia’s leadership and highlighted tremendous achievements, including completing the Dar es Salaam-Morogoro stretch and major advances in other segments.

The SGR’s impact extends beyond infrastructure development, promising economic growth and job creation.

“We appreciate President Samia for her efforts in managing this project; the construction from Dar es Salaam to Morogoro has already been completed. Morogoro-Dodoma is 96.01 per cent complete. When President Samia assumed office, that portion was built 66 per cent,” he said.

There are other lots under construction, which include Makutupora-Tabora, Tabora-Isaka, Isaka-Mwanza, and Tabora-Kigoma, all of which have contractors working on them.

He added: “And now we are procuring equipment to start building on the seventh stretch from UvinzaMusongati-Gitega that connects the two countries of Tanzania and Burundi, and subsequently, we will make an extension to Kindu in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”

SGR construction is divided into two parts, with the first phase stretching from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza and covering 1,596 km.

However, the 300-kilometer Dar es Salaam-Morogoro section is the most anxiously anticipated by the general public.

Naima Omary Rajabu, a food vendor in Dar es Salaam, expressed anticipation for the SGR’s operationalization, citing its potential to boost economic activities and streamline transportation.

“When SGR begins operations, we traders will profit economically since people will have reliable transit. We eagerly await its official launch,” she said.

TRC Director of Construction and Infrastructure Machibya Shiwa says the railway’s modern amenities, including communication systems and disability-friendly infrastructure, reflect Tanzania’s commitment to inclusive development.

Moreover, the project aligns with regional integration efforts, fostering closer ties with neighboring countries and enhancing trade corridors. Construction began in April 2017 and is ongoing.

The good news is that the Dar es Salaam-Morogoro section has already been completed, and trials are being carried out.

The Tanzanite-Dar es Salaam Station is 13,500 square meters (13,500 meters) and will connect Bus Rapid Transit and train service.

So, if someone walks down, they may obtain a cab or public transportation. Gabriel Mikindo, a train driver, highlighted the operational efficiencies of the SGR, saying that it reduced operating costs and shorter travel times.

The project has also contributed to increased employment, with SGR delivering 30,176 direct and 150,388 indirect jobs, earning a total of 358.74bn/-, and drivers are among the beneficiaries.

With the Dar es SalaamMwanza phase nearing completion and the Morogoro-Dodoma segment at 96.01 per cent implementation, Tanzania is poised to reap the benefits of this transformative infrastructure.

TRC has received four SGR electric locomotives and more than 60 passenger coaches. These purchased locomotives have a top speed of 160 kilometers/ hour.

Mr Kadogosa said there will be a range of trains, including the express one which runs from Dar es Salaam to the station in Morogoro.

The second SGR section is from Morogoro-Dodoma, which is 422 km. Dodoma has a larger facility than any other, and construction has reached 96.01 per cent so far.

Kelvin Kimambo, Assistant Manager SGR Morogoro-Makutupora, said in the implementation of the first phase from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza, Dodoma is the largest station.

“The station can serve 1,000,000 passengers per year, has a parking space for 163 cars, and also has three levels. This building is not only for passengers but also for businesses where there are 33 rental places for banks, restaurants, shops, and local vendors who will be able to operate these spaces,” he said.

According to him, the Dodoma station is the only station that can load passengers on two trains at the same time.

We have a platform that has three tracks where two are dedicated to loading passengers and one in transit. The SGR’s adoption of standard gauge technology promises enhanced capacity and efficiency compared to the older meter gauge railways, further amplifying its impact on regional connectivity and trade facilitation.

As Tanzania’s SGR project approaches fruition, under President Samia’s leadership, it stands as evidence of the nation’s commitment to modernization, economic development, and regional cooperation.

By January 2024, a total of 62 passenger coaches and four locomotives had been received. TRC expects to receive another five locomotives and the first set of EMU trains by the end of March 2024.

TRC will continue to conduct tests on each device that arrives in the country to ensure safety before use.

The progress of the SGR Project has reached 98.84 per cent for the Dar es Salaam – Morogoro section (300 KM), 96.35 per cent for the Morogoro – Makutupora section, 13.86 per cent for the Makutupora – Tabora section, 5.38 per cent for the Tabora – Isaka section, and 52.60 per cent for the Mwanza – Isaka section.

Comment:

The revolution began with Magufuli and is continuing under Samia. What it shows is what can be achieved when you take corruption out of public procurement.

President Magufuli it was, whom one of his first acts in office was to cancel a number of railway contracts awarded the Chinese by his predecessors. This enabled Turkish Yapi to make inroads into the space, opening it up. The Chinese who were smug and complacent were forced to sit up and literally had to beg for a seat at the dining table.

Net effect is that Tanzania is obtaining real value for their investment and because of their strategic approach Dar es salaam will emerge as the preferred port of reference for landlocked Rwanda, DRC, Burundi and even parts of Uganda. Whereas the Kenyans whose rival SGR development commenced earlier than Tanzania’s and was to connect Mombassa to Uganda, South Sudan, DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, CAR, are bogged down with China induced funding challenges. The rehabilitation of the TANZAM railway by the Chinese will cement the primacy of Dar port as the gateway to the Indian ocean, Asia and the Far east in a region that is witnessing an almighty scramble.

With the Americans pitching strongly in the Lobito corridor in an environment where the Chinese have sat squat and firmed up relationships, the Russians, Turks, Portuguese are also in the mix or fringes all pitching for a slice of the sweet African pie in this resource endowed region. The Arabs and Indians are not far behind either and smart African leaders should leverage the renewed hustle but I digress.

There are lessons to be learned from Tanzania and our people will do well to pay attention.