The Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (SUMATRA), the Tanzanian regulator of surface and marine transport services, has recently announced the preparation of new regulations to allow private operators to provide railway transport services in the country by the end of 2016.
The new regulations called Open Access Regulations, aim at creating a more competitive environment in Tanzania’s railway transport sector, since currently there are only two operators for covering the country’s total network length of 3,027 km between running single tracks and sidings.
Both operators currently hold joint venture agreements with Reli Assets Holdings Company (RAHCO), the parastatal organization established in 2007 for the development, maintenance and management of railway infrastructure in the country.
The Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA), managed with the Zambian government, connects Dar es Salaam with New Kapiri Moshi covering the majority of the country’s railway network totaling a length of 1,860 km.
Tanzania Railway Limited (TRL), the other operator managed with the Indian government, operates the rest of the network covered by routes between Dar es Salaam and the western regions of Kigoma, Katavi and Mwanza.
After signing agreements with RAHCO, new private-owned operators will be allowed to provide transport services in the national railway network and the competition will largely improve Tanzania’s railway transport, explained SUMATRA’s Director of Railways, Dr. Michael Kisaka.
According to Kifaru Rail Limited (KRL), a South African based railway operator, there is already a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with RAHCO to operate the Central Rail Line currently managed by TRL.
KRL’s MoU is one out of four signed so far for the licensing of railway operators licensing according to SUMATRA.
The expertise of these operators is expected to bring competitive solutions to Tanzania’s railway transport sector whose performance has deteriorated in the last 15 years with volume of freight moved falling from 1,446 to 0.25 million tonnes per annum, and passengers falling from 683,000 to 290,000 per annum.