MINISTER of Finance Alexander Chikwanda is leading a Zambian delegation at the 61st TAZARA council of ministers meeting in Dar es Salaam.
And the Tanzania Parliamentary Committee on Infrastructure has asked its government to review the law establishing Tazara for it to operate commercially instead of sticking to the present Act which only benefits Zambia.
Mr Chikwanda is acompanied by Minister of Transport, Communication, Works and Supply Yamfwa Mukanga, Minister of Commerce and Trade Robert Sichinga, permanent secretary Charles Sipanje and other senior government officials.
The meeting, which is being held at Tazara head office, is also being attended by Tanzanian Minister of Transport Harrison Makyembe, Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Abdallah Kigoda and other senior government officials.
Speaking after touring a number of projects in Dar es Salaam and Mbeya on Tuesday, the Tanzanian Parliamentarian Committee on Infrastructure called for more investment in Tazara.
The projects visited by the committee were: the gravel factory, rail-making plant at Kongolo Mswiswi in Mbarali and train engine repairing garage in Mbeya.
“The present law which states that the head of the rail should be Zambian and should also have the last say on the transport entity has been overtaken by events and therefore should be scrapped,” said Tunduru South lawmaker Mtutura Abdallah.
He said the formation of the railway agency was governed by the politics of the time which have been on the reign in operating it, adding that it ought to be reviewed to allow the first Uhuru railway on the continent operate commercially.
“Two things ought to be done at the same time. One is the review of the Act governing the rail operations so as to have it run commercially for the benefit of the shareholders. And two; the government to invest more into this agency for more productivity and the national economic growth,” Mr Mtutura said.
Mariam Msabaha (Zanzibar Urban West, Special Seats) said it is high time the government ensured that workers in the railway company were paid their salaries on time so they could work more efficiently and effectively.
For a number of years now, Tazara workers, particularly those on the Tanzanian side, have been going without salaries for many months.
She said this was so because Zambia had reviewed the establishing law.
Special Seats MP for Arusha Rebecca Mngodo said the Transport ministry ought to prepare a budget for the railway which should be passed by the parliament to make it more efficiency.
She said before investing more money in Tazara, the law must put it clearly how Tanzanians are going to benefit.
Committee chairperson Juma Kapuya said the committee will advise the government accordingly on what ought to be done to revamp Tazara.
“We have seen how the nation is poorly fairing in Tazara, besides we have seen many things including the good projects under the rail which are not running productively. We are going to document our observations to the government on its part in Tazara,” Professor Kapuya said.
And Dr Mwakyembe said he concurred with the lawmakers’ views that the rail company should now operate as a commercial entity.
He said circumstances which were governing during the establishment of the rail firm and the Tanzania-Zambia Pipeline were aimed at saving Zambia from depending on the exploitative Boer regime of South Africa. That is why the law had to favour Zambia more than Tanzania, he added.
“At present, such circumstances are non-existent, he said, therefore there is a need to change the law so as to benefit the shareholders equally, “he said.
The committee will also tour Itungi port on Lake Nyasa, Songwe international airport, and Momba district bordering Zambia.