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East Africa tests the waters

01 Feb 2004

SERIOUS moves are afoot to take the metre-gauge networks of East Africa into the private sector. Last November CPCS Transcom and its local partner Kisarika & Malimi won a C$1·7m contract from the Tanzanian government to act as lead transaction advisors for the privatisation of Tanzania Railways Corp.

The contract followed an unsuccessful bid process which resulted from a government decision to restructure TRC in 2001. CPCS Transcom will revise the planned concession agreement, assist with the tendering procedure and help evaluate the bids. Concessioning is expected to start in June.

Privatisation of Kenya Railways Corp and Uganda Railways Corp is now mooted for 2005. In the meantime the East African Community hopes to spend as much as KSh313bn to 'harmonise' the region's railways and ports. Operation of the interdependent network as three separate entities is 'uneconomical, insecure and subject to manipulation', says URC Managing Director Daudi Murungi, who expects most of the funding to be sourced from the 'donor community'. Look for proposals in April.

Meanwhile, a resolution to form an Association of East Africa Railways & Marine Services to improve co-operation, and especially cross-border services, was taken at a recent meeting in Nairobi, attended by KRC Managing Director Andrew Wanyandeh, Daudi Murungi of URC, TRC's Linford Mboma and Charles Phiri of Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority.

Both Tanzania and Zambia have agreed in principle to the idea of privatising Tazara, which provides a 1067mm gauge link between Dar es Salaam and New Kpiri M'Poshi. A feasibility study funded by the World Bank has begun, and Zambian Communications & Transport Minister Bates Namuyamba envisages a similar approach to that used for concessioning Zambia Railways. While Zambia expects to earn about US$1·5m annually in concession fees, around US$40m is to be invested in the first five years, with a further US$60m to be ploughed into infrastructure and rolling stock during the concession period.

  • Passenger services were restored in December west of Nakuru on KRC's main line; they had been withdrawn following a derailment in August 2001 near Lela on the Kisumu branch in which 16 passengers died. Thrice-weekly through trains from Nairobi are running to the port of Kisumu on Lake Victoria, and a shuttle runs four times a week on the 50 km branch to Butere.