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China in bid to Take Over the Running of Tazara in Plan to Privatise the Corporation

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anzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) has received four new diesel-electric mainline locomotives and 18 new passenger coaches valued at US$22.4 million.

Dar es Salaam — China is to take over the management and operations of Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (Tazara), in a major plan that will herald privatisation of the struggling corporation, The Citizen can reveal.

A technical team from Tanzania, Zambia and China is putting together details of the plan whose proposals include reducing the bloated Tazara workforce.

Tanzania and Zambia would also be required to review their domestic laws to provide for preferential provisions in the running of Tazara, with a view to attracting more private players.
A working government document seen by The Citizen indicates that China was also looking to leverage its role in the railway line to push for the establishment of the Bagamoyo Port.
It describes the proposed privatisation plan as a turnaround strategy for the landmark 1,860km single-track railway line that was built in the early 1970s by China as a cold-war era gift to Tanzania and Zambia.

According to the document, a consensus has been reached among the three parties to handover Tazara to China Railway as early as September this year when a technical agreement should be ready for signing.

China Railway is a company which operates the Asian country’s vast national railway network for commuter and freight transport. The company was formed in 2013 and oversees the services via several smaller companies in a model it hopes to replicate here with Tazara if it indeed takes over.

The privatisation plan was discussed last week–from 9 to12 May–when a tripartite meeting was held in Dar es Salaam to draw the points of consensus and set in motion the final technical agreement.

Chief Secretary John Kijazi represented Tanzania in the talks while secretary to the Zambian Cabinet Roland Msiska represented his country. In China’s delegation, which included officials from China Railway, was headed by Liu Junfeng who is deputy director general of his country’s ministry of Commerce.

The teams reviewed findings of a technical study of Tazara by the Third Railway Survey and Design Institute (TSDI). The China-based group prides itself as “a Grade-A large-scale comprehensive survey and design corporation.”

According to the document, Mr Junfeng said Tazara’s return to efficient and profitable operations would bear the growing friendship between China and Africa. “It will be acknowledgement of its founding fathers Julius Nyerere, Kenneth Kaunda and Mao Tse-Tung,” he noted.

Some 11 consensus points were drafted after the meeting, pointing to a clear picture that the countries have agreed to a Chinese injection of technical and financial resources to restore Tazara’s lost glory.

“The Chinese, Tanzania and Zambian sides all agree that the current form of management and operation shall be changed and commercial operation shall be introduced to realise the revitalisation and sustainable development of Tazara,” reads part of the working report.

The report adds that Tanzania and Zambia have consented to the Chinese establishment of a new management and operation system. “Both governments will delegate responsibility to the revitalised Tazara for the daily operations and management.” The structure, it said, would adhere to “conventional and good corporate government practices.”

However, the Chinese are not only interested in injecting funds in the stuttering railway line but are keen to play a much bigger role–providing strategic management and superior technical operations to make Tazara a commercial flagship project in the East and Southern Africa economic blocs.

The report binds Tanzania and Zambia to clear all Tazara’s outstanding debts that include statutory deductions and suppliers’ arrears. The two countries will also be required to send home some of their employees to match the needs of the new structure.

“Tanzania and Zambia will do their best to ensure Tazara is provided with preferential policies and legal instruments to make it commercially viable,” reads the report.

With little prospects for a profit in Tazara operations in the short run, the countries agreed to increase volumes of bulk goods and cargo transported through Tazara while Zambia undertakes to connect the line to its local railway network.

The next crucial meeting of the parties will take place in China in the next few weeks, it emerged, with China handing over the lead negotiation role to China Railway while Tanzania and Zambia will be represented by the relevant ministries.

Last week during the closed-door talks, the Transport permanent secretary, Dr Leonard Chamuriho, told The Citizen that a clear picture of the revival strategy would be known after the China meeting.

“Today we were in a preparatory meeting ahead of the ministerial meeting slated for November where a binding agreement shall be decided,” the PS said then.

He acknowledged that Tazara was on the rocks but said the government was committed to turning things around. Sources at the ministry told The Citizen that about $370m (Sh740 billion) was required for the revitalisation plan of the corporation.

Reached for comment, a source at the Chinese embassy in Dar es Salaam who spoke on condition of anonymity said the plan has been long coming, noting that China was now ready to help turn around the ailing railway line.

Should the plan take-off, it would be the first time in Africa for China to directly run a railway project. At the moment, China Railway Construction Corporation is involved in the construction of standard gauge railway lines in Kenya, Ethiopia and Nigeria.

A consortium of Chinese companies are on course to land the job for the upgrade to standard gauge of Tanzania’s 1000km central railway line at a whopping cost of $9 billion.

The central line project will include an additional 1500km of new railway lines connecting the Dar es Salaam Port to landlocked countries of Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo.

28 COMMENTS

  1. upnd cadre
    Comment:about time., we wasted too much money and time on nothing. maybe Micheal had a different vision of this whole course.
    • zagaze
      @the engineer - i suspect you are a miseducated african who has all the academic accolades but traduces his own people. There is nothing an african or black man/woman cant do. You are dealing with the symptoms in your analysis and completely ignoring the disease. The question you should be asking is what has made educated africans fail to perform to the advancement of the race? Understanding this problem is the proper diagnosis of the disease. Thereafter we can cure those sick or prevent our future generations, posterity from getting infected. This is how we should be thinking my dear brother/sister. We cant entriely put the blame on the sick, but also the causers of the sickness.
    • Katondo boys
      HOW ST;;Up..iD is that???????? WHAT OR WHY HAVE WE BEEN SERVICING THE LOAN TO CHINA ALL THESE YEARS FOR ?? THEN TO GIVE IT TO THEM FOR FREE - SO THAT THEY RIP & REAP FURTHER FROM US?????? Is it any wonder WHEN WE SAY BA CHIFITA IN GOVT & LEADING US HAVE SOLD US DOWN THE RIVER - you wonder why it is so annoying!!!! Ba Chifita who Kaunda allowed to have FREE EDUCATION, ba mataba, only used to memorise JUST ENOUGH TO PASS BUT HAVE NOOOOO BRAINS AT ALL!!!THEY SHOULD STILL BE LIVING IN CAVES - HUNTER GATHERERS, what they have become is SHAMELESS THIEVES!!! If the Chinese WANT THE RAILWAY - THEY SHOULD BE BUYING IT!!! LETS KICK THEM OUT ONCE & FOR ALL!! PamaFI KUYABEBELE!!!! Vote Wisely 11/8/2016!! Vote ZambiaFORWARD!! Vote UPND!! #Chagwamustfall!! PamaFi kuyabebele!! I thank...
    • Jay Jay
      Just look at what they did to Zimbabwe...they so called Chinese investors in diamond mines have been smuggling more than $200 million diamonds out forcing uncle Bob to kick them out!!
  2. Zezemba
    The Africans, as usual, have failed to run it-to them its all about greed, corruption and rooting. You will see when the Chinese wholly take over, this thing you have failed to run will be ticking and will even start making a break through-yes making profit! The question is, why are we Africans so corrupt, selfish and greed?
    • Observer
      Go ask HH why he is corrupt. Ask him why he did it on Roan Antelope with the Binami Cartel and Livingstone hotel with Boers. Ask Guy Scott why he had to rob poor farmers of millions US $ in the swine fever or go ask GBM why he says tendalama shabanoko chixxxxx whenever he has an opportunity to steal from Zambia also go ask Sampa why he had to skin live and murder Mandu when challenged on corruption.
    • zagaze
      Zezemba-perhaps your question should even go further and ask.Why do africans carry foreign names, why do we worship foreign Gods, why do we praise and honor people like John cecil Rhodes and David livingstone? Our so called eminent scholars like prof saasa are at the centre of these scholarships when rhodes in terms of genocide makes hitler look like a baby. Over 60 million confirmed murder of african people and yet we accept scolarships named after such a murderer. I wonder if any jewish person can accept a Hitler scholarship. The simple answer to your question and all questions is that we have been damaged. Taught to hate self and love foreign. The whites have done this thru religion, formal education, media & entertainment.
    • Zezemba
      #Obsever, Bro, I forgive you because I know right now tempers are very high among you pf sponsored chaps abroad (cadre diplomats) I can't blame you, what with HH making heat waves towards 11th August. Anyway just Keep calm bro, even back pa Zed you can still make it. Wishing you good lucky.
    • divided house
      @3.2 Zagaze, you make so much sense. We are brainwashed and made to feel whatever is foreign is the best.
  3. Laso
    The Chinese will dig up the tracks and sell them together with the locomotives as scrap metal in china. They will then use the timber slippers as firewood to cook dogs as snacks during the legalised vandalisation process. Dont say I didn't warn you. Ine nga ne Laso na lasa!
    • Peter
      @4 INSTEAD OF WORRYING ABOUT THE UNFORESEEN PROBLEMS, YOU SHOULD BE ADVISING THE 3 GOVERNMENTS TO INCLUDE THE MODERNISATION OF TAZARA BY ELECTRIFYING IT AND BUILDING A DOUBLE-TRACK TAZARA RAIL SYSTEM TO MAKE IT MORE EFFEICIENT AND INCREASE THE TRAVEL SPEED. ELECTRIFYING IT CAN BE DONE IN A SINGLE PHASE. DOUBLE-TRACKING IT CAN BE DONE IN PHASES BY FIRST IMPLEMENTING THE MOST CARGO BUSY AREAS SUCH AS BETWEEN KASAMA AND KABWE IN THE CASE OF ZAMBIA. THEY KNOW THEIR BUSY PLACES IN TANZANIA. IN MOST CASES BLOGGERS FROM OVERSEAS ARE THE WORST AND YOU ARE ONE OF THEM.
  4. Peter
    "A consortium of Chinese companies are on course to land the job for the upgrade to standard gauge of Tanzania’s 1000km central railway line at a whopping cost of $9 billion. "...project will include an additional 1500km of new railway lines connecting the Dar es Salaam Port to landlocked countries of Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo." THIS IS WHAT I SAY. WHEN YOU HAVE A BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY LIKE SHORTAGE OF FOODS IN NEIGHBOURING COUNTRIES AND YOU WASTE TIME TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT, OTHER COUNTRIES ARE NOT WAITING FOR YOU. THEY ARE ALSO EYING FOR THE SAME MARKET EVEN IN A BIGGER WAY. SO, TANZANIA WILL BE EXPORTING FOODS AND OTHER COMMODITIES ON RAIL TO DR CONGO, RWANDA AND BURUNDI. ZAMBIA SHOULD HAVE DONE THIS MANY YEARS, AGO, BY BUILDING PROPER...
  5. Peter
    ...STATE-OF-THE-ART HARBOURS ON LAKES TANGANYIKA AND MWERU AND STATE-OF-THE-ART RAIL SYSTEM CONNECTING ALL NEIGHBOURING COUNTRIES FOR THE SIMPLE REASON OF EFFICIENTLY, EXPORTING CARGO TO THOSE COUNTRIES AS DIRECT RESULT OF INCREASED AGRICULTURE, ESTABLISHED FOOD PROCESSING AND MANUFACTURING INDUSTRIES INCLUDING HUMAN GARGO. BUT, INSTEAD ZAMBIA DAY-IN DAY-OUT COMPLAINS ABOUT SMUGGLING ACROSS THESE BORDERS. SMUGGLING TELL YOU THERE IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR BUSINESS. JUST QUICKLY CREATE THE INFRASTRUCTURE FOR THAT AND THE UNFORESEEN BUSINESS BEFORE OTHER COUNTRIES DO IT. SO, KNOWING TANZANIA'S HIGH FOOD PRODUCTIVITY, THE DOOR WILL BE CLOSED FOR ZAMBIA'S OPPORTUNITY FOR FOOD EXPORT. WE TALK TOO MUCH AND DO LITTLE.
  6. Jay Jay
    This surely makes sad reading..this is the artery that carries our copper and potentially the door for massive agriculture export to the far east...BUT these two countries have LAMENTABLY FAILED TO RUN this company...you give the company to the Chinese who are fed up with waiting for their goods to delivered. This is the same with ZRL where cadres like that **** Atanga who has now defected to UPND, are handpicked to rob the taxpayers. Our greedy politicians would rather pour borrowed money in overpriced roads than in rail as a successful rail sector is bad news for their haulage contracts with FRA and GRZ.
  7. shikantwa
    we must be very careful with some of these recapitalizations negotiations. We have not heard our counter offers. For instance , what is in it for us other than losing jobs? What is the lease period? is this in perpetuity? on top of this we expect 2000 Chinese workers and hang arounds.
  8. Sanity
    Profitable institutional management requires employing managers with years of hands on experience at the top. Zambia Railways did it with Canadians in the 70s. As long as Africans keep giving those top jobs to political appointees, even with theoretical /academic PHDs without operational experience things will never change. Watch the operational qualifications of the people the Chinese used to launch Tazara and you will see what I mean. Qualified operations people use the management process rather than the political process to run the operation. Any top management person with less than 15 years of demonstrated operational experience cannot not lead a large organisation like Tazara or Zambia Railways. It has never happened anywhere in the world.
  9. Ziko niyatu tonse
    Our fore fathers had a vision , KK and Nyerere ! They laid a foundation for us and our younger generation are greedy and their objective is to get rich fast ! This is a sad reading , we are not innovative ! We were supposed to take this railway business to another lever , after 40 years !
  10. KK Airport Cabinet
    Let the Chinese take over. they're our friends. i would be worried if it was the Indians. We Zambians have failed to run things. At least HH has tried to manage what he has than PF. We should have asked the Chinese to help us establish an airline. Now Ghana is benefiting in terms of air transport.
  11. TRUE ZAMBIAN
    Why not advertise for key positions for both TAZARA & ZRL? We are sinking because of political appointments, unlike RSA which advertises all jobs in the land. After finishing repaying the loan, you also handover TAZARA back to the seller, very fun. These PF are saying that they are implementing Late Sata's programs, when its the opposite, handing out companies like TAZARA when he himself had grabbed back, ZAMTEL, ZRL & more like ZANACO were to follow & created IDC. Do we need to handover TAZARA just to reduce the bloated workforce, review our domestic laws to provide for preferential provisions in the running of Tazara, to push for the establishment of the Bagamoyo Port, to introduce commercial operation, to clear all Tazara’s outstanding debts that include statutory deductions and...
    • TRUE ZAMBIAN
      Do we need to handover TAZARA just to reduce the bloated workforce, review our domestic laws to provide for preferential provisions in the running of Tazara, to push for the establishment of the Bagamoyo Port, to introduce commercial operation, to clear all Tazara’s outstanding debts that include statutory deductions and suppliers’ arrears, provide preferential policies and legal instruments? Whats the point of this deal when we have to clear all Tazara’s outstanding debts that include statutory deductions and suppliers’ arrears ourselves? All these we can do it ourselves. "Should the plan take-off, it would be the first time in Africa for China to directly run a railway project." Is this not the same as the Zambia Railways consortium? Where is the guarantee of success from first timer...
    • TRUE ZAMBIAN
      Is this not the same as the Zambia Railways consortium? Where is the guarantee of success from first timer just formed in 2013?

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