Monday, April 28, 2014

TAZARA acquires new locomotives from China
By Gift Chanda
Tue 31 Dec. 2013, 14:00 CAT

TAZARA has announced the acquisition of four new mainline locomotives from China in a move that will boost the railway firm's operations.

According to a press statement issued yesterday, the railway company, which is jointly owned by the Tanzanian and Zambian governments, had sealed a contract with the Chinese Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC) for the manufacture and supply of the four mainline locomotives with their accompanying consumables and spare parts at approximately US$12.45 million.

TAZARA acting managing director Ronald Phiri and Miao Zhong, the TAZARA-based Chinese Railway Experts team leader, who signed the contract on behalf of TAZARA and CCECC respectively, also confirmed that CSR Qishuyan Locomotive Company Limited of China would manufacture the 3000-horsepower Diesel Electric SDD20 locomotives.

The four SDD20 locomotives, expected to be delivered by December 2014, are the second batch of the type to be manufactured by CSR for TAZARA, the first batch of six having been introduced on the line this year.
Phiri stated that the acquisition of the additional four locomotives was a key and integral part of the recently approved five-year strategic plan which envisaged the enhancement of the Authority's hauling capacity in an effort to escalate the volume of cargo and revenue in the second year of the strategic plan in 2014.

"The sooner we get these locomotives and start delivering on our 2014/2015 targets, the better," Phiri said, emphasizing that the idea was to improve both the availability and reliability of the equipment.
The six locomotives are expected to enhance the railway line's motive power and reverse the declining performance that had been witnessed in past years.

The TAZARA board of directors recently approved the railway firm's new five-year strategic plan for 2013-2018, with an indicative budget outlay of US$211.0 million from which US$177.0 million would be applied on the enhancement of capacity in critical areas.

TAZARA now has a fleet of about 16 mainline locomotives at its disposal, six of which are newly acquired Diesel Electric SDD20 locomotives while the remaining 10 are the old Diesel Electric U30C locomotives that had worked for over 25 years.

Phiri observed that the first batch of the six SDD20 locomotives posed a few teething challenges when they were introduced onto the TAZARA line earlier this year, but had since been fine-tuned and were performing satisfactorily.

"We are confident that having observed the first batch of the SDD20 locos under three months of trials followed by three months of actual utilisation, the next batch of the SDD20 locos would come with even higher quality and level of reliability," he added.

Phiri said all indications were that TAZARA was heading for better times, especially that the two shareholding governments had given a go-ahead for private sector partnerships, which were expected to fill the investment gaps in needy areas of operations.

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