TANZANIA: The revival of freight operations on the country’s 438 km Usambara Railway was marked by a ceremony at Moshi on July 20 attended by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa.

The Tanga – Moshi line has been out of use for 12 years, but the Prime Minister told parliament in June 2018 that the railway would be restored in order to provide reliable freight transport between the port of Tanga and the northern regions of Kilimanjaro, Arusha and Manyara. The government hopes this will stimulate agricultural development and local industries as well as tourism. Visiting the renovation works in May, Minister for Works, Transport & Communication Prof Makame Mbarawa indicated that the project would be completed within a year.

The first commercial traffic was an 800 tonne cement train from Tanga to Moshi, which Tanzania Railway Corp Chairman John Kandoro said was carrying the equivalent of 30 lorryloads. Pointing out that ‘the use of the train will reduce costs, save roads from damage and conserve the environment’, he said revitalisation of the railway would reduce the cost of moving bulk freight by between 30% and 40%, as well as improving safety and offering faster delivery times.

The government has been in discussion with Tanga Cement Company Ltd to switch much of the production at its Maweni plant near Tanga from road to rail, in order to reduce the impact of road damage arising from what Mbarawa described as ‘excessive use of heavy trucks’, amounting to more than 100 lorry movements per day. In future the firm is expected to ship up to 35 000 tonnes per month by rail.

During the celebrations to welcome the first train, the Prime Minister indicated that the long-disused western section of the line between Moshi and Arusha would also be restored, paving the way for the reintroduction of passenger trains between Dar es Salaam, Tanga, Moshi and Arusha.