Tanzania has officially launched the construction of the country’s 2561km standard-gauge railway project. President John Magufuli launched construction of the SGR project on April 12 to mark work on the first phase of the project.
The SGR will eventually link the port of Dar es Salaam with Mwanza on Lake Victoria and Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika, as well as neighbouring Rwanda and Burundi.
The first phase will see the construction of 205km of railway line running from Dar es Salaam to Morogoro. The initial phase is expected to be completed October 2019. The contract for the first section of the project expected to cost $US 1.2bn was awarded to Yapi Merkezi, Turkey, and Mota-Engil, Portugal, in February.
On the other hand, Tanzania’s Reli Assets Holding Company awarded Korea’s national railway operator Korail contract on April 10 to provide consultancy services.
Korail will supervise the design and construction of the standard-gauge line from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza, and will begin working on the first section on May 5.
Phase one will be designed for 160km/h operation and will have six stations including a dry port at Ruvu.
The line is expected to carry 17 million tonnes of freight annually.
President Magufuli says the Turkish president, Mr Recep Erdogan, expressed an interest in funding the 336km second phase from Morogoro to the capital Dodoma during his visit to Tanzania in January.
Magufuli also revealed that the World Bank is providing Shillings 300bn ($US 134.7m) to assist with the maintenance of Tanzania Railway’s 2700km metre-gauge network.
East Africa has seen a surge in railway development aimed at enhancing movement of goods and people. Kenya for instance recently unveiled its newly constructed SGR running from Mombasa to Nairobi.
Ethiopia on the other hand has operationalised its SGR project running from the capital addis Ababa to Djibouti.
Economic experts believe that unless Africa finds way to enhancing its infrastructure programmes, development agendas would not be realised.