October 25, 2004

Railways over roads, says Minister

Tanzania is to harmonise and integrate its transport sector to promote diversity among railways, roads, airports, civil aviation and harbours. Currently, there is overdependence on roads at the expense of railways. The government plans to implement railway links to major economic zones to reduce the high cost of construction and maintenance of roads, saving money for other economic activities.
Minister of Communications and Transport, Mark Mwandosya, said that he believed that without holistic and integrated development, Tanzania's transport sector development would be "idealistic." "An excellent port system linked to a poor railway system will surely bog down the transport sector while concentration on the road sector development at the expense of the railway will shorten the lifespan of the roads," Mwandosya stated. "The vision of the National Transport Policy is to have efficient and cost effective domestic and international transport services to all segments of the population and sectors of the national economy with maximum safety and minimum environmental degradation." According to the minister, the government was also determined to "implement, by June, 2005, the International Civil Aviation Organisation [ICAO] safety oversight audit recommendations, develop and review aviation security and air navigation regulations, ensuring that air agreements and licensing of air services are in conformity with ICAO requirements."
Commenting on rail transport, Prof Mwandosya said that Tanzania was determined to concession the Tanzania Railway Corporation (TRC), the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (Tazara) and to develop the proposed Arusha-Musoma railway in co-operation with Uganda and Kenya in the context of the East African Community. The Tanzania government was also keen of ensuring effective use by Rwanda of the Isaka Dry Port and the eventual development of the Isaka-Kigali railway is on the cards, said the minister, adding that the African Development Bank (ADB) had agreed to provide a grant for the implementation of a feasibility study for the Isaka-Kigali Railway. The Belgium government has also shown interest in co-financing the study. Mwandosya also announced that Tanzania was evaluating the possibilities of railway development in southern Tanzania - Mtwara Development Corridor running from Mtwara port on the Indian Ocean to Mbamba Bay on Lake Nyasa, and extending the TRC fibre optic-telecommunications system from Dodoma to Tabora and eventually to Mwanza and Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika.
The construction and development of Songwe Airport at Mbeya, promotion of private investment and encouraging private airports in the country was further central to the development of airports in Tanzania, according to the government blueprint. Other plans in the airports sector include the rehabilitation of infrastructural facilities and installations of new facilities at Dar es Salaam International Airport. These include supply and installation of passenger service counters, baggage handling systems and management information systems and airport pavements. Also planned are export processing zones at Dar es Salaam International Airport and other strategic airports, construction of airport hotels, fuel depots, state reception buildings at strategic airports, preparations of master plans for all major airports and the rehabilitation of airfield ground lighting.
(The East African, Nairobi)

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