JANUARY 16 is the deadline for prequalification bids for a 25-year concession to operate the Tanzania Railways Corp network. The Presidential Parastatal Sector Reform Commission issued an initial invitation to tender on December 7, with further details available at www.psrctz.com. According to PSRC Executive Chairman John C Rubambe, prequalified consortia will be invited to submit more detailed tenders, with a preferred concessionaire to be selected by mid 2002, final contract signing in May-June, and a formal handover in October.

The government is looking to appoint a single concessionaire to operate freight and passenger trains on the 2707 km metre-gauge network. Although it must be a single legal entity, the concessionaire can be formed from one company or a consortium, and it must be able to demonstrate experience in railway operations and management.

Under the proposal, TRC’s infrastructure will be transferred to a new Rail Asset Holding Company. Locomotives, rolling stock, plant and machinery will be sold outright to the successful bidder. The concessionaire would be required to negotiate a lease of the infrastructure from RAHCo. The winning bidder will also be required to undertake modernisation of both infrastructure and rolling stock.

During 2001 TRC handled around 1·4 billion net tonne-km of freight and 400 million passenger journeys, recording a turnover of around TSh54bn.