World Bank agrees $200m for Tanzania rail upgrade

On the way to Dar es Salaam by train in 2020 (Erasmus Kamugisha/CC BY-SA 4.0 Deed)
The World Bank, through its International Development Association, has approved a $200m loan to fund improvements on one of Tanazania’s two main railways, the narrow-gauge line running 970km between the country’s coastal capital, Dar es Salaam, and the inland town of Isaka.

Disbursed over the coming six years, the money will pay for refurbishing tracks, repairing weak bridges, and improving two intermodal terminals.

Tracks along the 135km section between Tabora and Isaka will be replaced entirely.

“While the country’s transportation network is extensive, there are persistent bottlenecks in terms of maintenance and capacity that are limiting its full use,” said Nathan Belete, World Bank Country Director.

“This investment will directly address the bottlenecks in the rail network to enhance efficiency, capacity, and competitiveness so as to maximize Tanzania’s unique position to facilitate regional connectivity.”

The bank said the project will help 3.5 million people, some 5% of Tanzania’s population, including railway users, businesses, and communities in the Kinywasungwe catchment area.

The project is the second phase of the World Bank’s Tanzania Intermodal and Rail Development Project, or TIRP.

TIRP-1 boosted the weight-bearing capacity on the 840km section between Dar es Salaam and Tabora so that it could handle axle loads of 18.5 tons, up from 13.9 tons.

The $200m will also pay for design studies and project-management support.

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