The National Railways of Congo (SNCC), Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) and Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL), the three railway operators on the Dar es Salaam Corridor conferred with their customers in Dar es Salaam under the auspices of the Southern African Railways Association (SARA) and expressed happiness at the improvements in railway operations so far.
Both the railway operators and users praised the Tanzanian Government for responding to stakeholders’ calls for the scrapping of the Value Added Tax (VAT) on transit goods in the 2017/2018 national budget, emphasizing that the competitiveness of the Dar es Salaam Port was critical to the improvement of the Dar es Salaam Transport Corridor in general.
Together with the Tanzania Ports Authority, the operators and users pledged to co-operate in promoting and growing the Dar es Salaam route.
Meeting in Dar es Salaam on Thursday 10 August 2017, SNCC, TAZARA and ZRL, who are the members of the Dar es Salaam Corridor Management Group (CMG), a Committee of SARA, met to discuss ways of improving and growing business on the Dar es Salaam Corridor using railways to and from the Port of Dar.
On 11 August, the three SARA members met some of their key Dar es Salaam based railway users, including Impala Terminals Tanzania, MM Integrated Steel Mills Ltd (MMI), Dar es Salaam Corridor Group Ltd (DCG), Business Congolese International (CBI), Ocean Freight Limited and Tanzania Road Haulage (1980) Ltd (TRH), as well as the Port of Dar es Salaam
The railway users unanimously commended the three railways for improving the operations in many aspects, especially the shortening of the transit time between Zambia and Tanzania, which was now between four and seven days, but encouraged the railways to improve further especially in terms of rates.
Mr. Ratish Kamania of MMI said he was proud to have been working with TAZARA for over 15 years and was quick to reflect that sometimes in the past it was taking more than two months for his goods to reach Lusaka from Dar and MMI was forced to invest in its own trucks at some point, but now the cargo was being delivered within four to five days by rail.
“We have 80 trucks of our own, but we have parked them because it makes logistical sense to use TAZARA now and we are happy that TAZARA is delivering 3,000 tonnes on time every month” he said.
The Chairman of the SARA Committee, Mr. Francis Lwanga, who is the Director of Marketing for ZRL, said that the railway operators were keen to develop the Dar es Salaam Corridor into the most preferred route.
“The Dar es Salaam corridor is one of the safest and shortest routes for many customers especially those with business interests in the far East, so we must continuously interact and strive to make improvements so that we can expeditiously address all emerging concerns, strike quick wins where possible and make this the most preferred route,” said Mr. Lwanga.
The railway users thanked SARA for facilitating the dialogue and urged the three railway operators to address all the issues raised in the meeting in order to improve services further and make the route more attractive.
SARA is a Non-profit Organization domiciled in Zimbabwe, formed in April 1996 to promote the interests of railways in SADC. The current SARA strategy addresses five strategic focus areas of advocacy and lobbying, infrastructure development, railway operations, resource mobilization, marketing and publicity and safety. Members of SARA are predominantly railways in the SADC region, some major railway customers and suppliers, and other organizations with special interest in railways. SARA has 11 multi-disciplinary committees called Corridor Management Groups (CMGs), according to the number of Corridors in SARA (Beira, Beitbridge, Dar es Salaam, Goba, Limpopo, Lobito, Namibian, Plumtree, Ressano Garcia, Richards Bay and Central Corridor), which are responsible for managing specific corridors in terms of all aspects of railway business relating to particular corridors. The Dar es Salaam CMG members are TAZARA, ZRL and SNCC.
TAZARA is bi-national railway jointly owned by the Governments of the United Republic of Tanzania and the Republic of Zambia on a 50-50 shareholding basis. The 1,860km-railway connects landlocked Zambia to the seaport of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and further provides road and railway inter-connectivity to other parts of Southern Africa. In essence, TAZARA provides a communication backbone for the three regional groupings of SADC, COMESA and the East African Community. For Central and Southern African hinterland importers and exporters with business ties to the Middle-East and Asian countries, including China, TAZARA provides the shortest route to the sea, through the Port of Dar es Salaam and is therefore a vital rail link in the logistical chain. Ends
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