Tanzanian President John Magufuli has launched the project to build a 300-km standard gauge railway between the Indian Ocean port city of Dar es Salaam and the inland city of Morogoro – the first leg of a new cross-country line.
Reported to cost $1.2bn (Sh2.7 trillion), the economy-boosting project is set to last 30 months, and will be carried out by contractors Yapi Merkezi of Turkey and Mota-Engil of Portugal.
It is the first part of a bigger plan to upgrade the railways from Dar es Salaam inland to the port cities of Kigoma (on Lake Tanganyika) and Mwanza (on Lake Victoria) to encourage trade with landlocked neighbours Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Speaking during the launch on 12 April, Magufuli urged the contractors to build the railway on time to help expedite Tanzania’s economic growth, newspaper The Citizen reported.
"Our main focus is to improve the infrastructure sector, something which will in turn improve other sectors," he said.
He claimed that the government of Turkey is interested in funding the next leg of the railway, from Morogoro to Dodoma, the country’s capital, a length of 336km, reported the newspaper.
Magafuli also said his government had acquired $134m (Sh300 billion) from the World Bank for the maintenance of the railway line.
The 160km/h rail link will transport 17 million tonnes of cargo instead of the current 5 million tonnes, Tanzania’s rail operator, Reli Asset Holding Company (Rahco), has said.
Image: For illustration only. Map shows rail link from Dar es Salaam to Morogoro, with planned future links to Dodoma and onward to Kigoma and Mwanza (GCR/Google Maps)