Saturday, March 15, 2008
By Gillian Namungala in Kapiri
Saturday March 15, 2008 [03:00]
KONKOLA Copper Mine (KCM) has offered to assist in the repair of 18 locomotive engines for Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) at a cost of US $10.08 million. And communications minister Doro Siliya has said that the government is in the process of engaging private sector participation in the operations of TAZARA. Speaking during the launch of the first two newly rehabilitated locomotives, KCM resident director Deb Bandyopadhyay said the move was intended to revitalise the operations of TAZARA.
He said KCM was concerned with the rate at which TAZARA was carrying out its rehabilitation of locomotives hence its decision to assist the company. Bandyopadhyay explained that the project started with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between KCM and TAZARA in September 2006 in which it was agreed that Electric Transport was to provide kits and supervise the rehabilitation work at TAZARA’s workshop at Mbeya in Tanzania.
Bandyopadhyay said KCM would stand to benefit from the locomotives through an increased volume in exports, reduced transit times and predictability of copper deliveries to the port. Bandyopadhyay said currently KCM was exporting 70 per cent of the total copper export through TAZARA.
“To move our goods to the various ports, we need the railway therefore, we will continue to support any move aimed at improving the system,” he said.
He appealed to the Ministry of Communication and Transport to evaluate and examine the current railway infrastructure in terms of meeting the mining industry’s requirements.
Bandyopadhyay noted that the mining industry had grown and continued to grow at a remarkable pace but regretted that there was no corresponding growth in the railway services.
He also disclosed that production in the mining sector had grown from 250,000 per tones per year in 2000 to 500,000 tonnes per year currently.
He noted that this growth would be fourfold by the year 2010 through various investments such as Konkola Deep Mining Project in Chililabombwe and the new smelter in Chingola that were underway.
And Siliya in a speech read for her by Central Province deputy permanent secretary Luke Makupi said the government was aware of the challenges that TAZARA was facing.
She said the participation of the private sector would help revitalise TAZARA’s operations.
Siliya challenged the private sector to take advantage of government’s good investment policies to invest in the economy.
She hoped that once the 18 locomotives were rehabilitated they would help in improving TAZARA’s operations and enable it to compete effectively with other transporters.
And TAZARA managing director Clement Muwinya disclosed that business had declined to 50 per cent compared to a 70 per cent 20 years ago.
Muwinya attributed the decline to the dilapidated infrastructure but he hoped the two rehabilitated locomotives would help increase their haulage from the current 600 metric tonnes to 800 metric tonnes of goods.