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Tanzania USD6.1BN includes repairing and modernising railway line to connect Uganda freight traffic

Tanzania needs 6.1 billion US dollars over the next five years to finance infrastructure development projects including railways, ports, airports and roads.

"We have no other choice for economic development but to improve the infrastructure," the Minister for Transport, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe, told a workshop of the Association of African Development Financing Institutions (AADFI) here yesterday.

"If we aim to deliver better standards of living for our citizens, then the only valid question is how to do it -- and not if we can do it or not?" the minister said when opening the workshop on the sidelines of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Annual General Meetings.

He told the workshop held under the theme: "Financing Infrastructure Development: An Agenda for Development Financial Institutions (FDIs)" that Tanzania was currently in the process of expanding its Dar es Salaam and Mtwara ports while at the same time planning to build two new ones at Mwambani in Tanga and Mbegani in Bagamoyo.

The minister said that new investments were also needed for inland and lake ports. Dr Mwakyembe also underscored the importance of a reliable railway network, saying: "A port without a railway connection is nothing but a swimming pool."

He said the government was in the process of repairing and modernising the central railway line which spans 2,707 kilometres from Kigoma to Dar es Salaam and upgrading Tanga to Arusha line which covers 438 kms that would be connected to the new Kampala port to provide shorter access for Uganda freight traffic for exports through Mwambani.

He said new development of coal and iron ore mining in Mchuchuma and Liganga in south central Tanzania is planned to be connected to the nearest port of Mtwara for economic reasons. The minister insisted that transportation through railway was far cheaper than road.

He said the cost of transporting one tonne of goods per kilometre on road in Tanzania is 15 US cents. Transportation of the same weight on railway is about seven US cents. He said currently in Tanzania over 95 per cent of heavy traffc is transported by road, while only two per cent is moved by railway.

"This implies underutilisation of railway mode and thus costing the nation dearly in terms of road maintenance funding," Dr Mwakyembe said.

In his opening remarks, AADFI Chairman, Mr Peter Noni, said Africa has a huge deficit in infrastructure, despite its importance in sustainable economic development.

He said an assessment by AfDB in 2006, shows that less that a third of sub-Saharan Africans have access to electricity, only 56 per cent drink clean water, barely a third of rural Africans live near a road and just four per cent of African farmland is irrigated.

Mr Noni further said that over 60 per cent of Africa's population lack basic sanitation facilities less than a quarter of paved road per kilometer compared to other developed regions.

By John Kulekana
Tanzania Daily News
31 May 2012

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