Discussions have begun between the Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) and the Malaysian railway engineering firm, SMH Rail, to collaborate on rehabilitating discarded locomotives and wagons in order for TAZARA to increase it's capacity in train runs.
Akashambatwa Mbikusita-Lewanika, managing director of TAZARA said discussion's were opened with SMH Rail of Malaysia to carry out rehabilitation works for the locomotives and wagons as part of the continuing efforts towards capacity enhancement and service improvement through the Smart Partnership Programme.
The Smart Partnership Programme was endorsed by TAZARA Council of Ministers in June 2012 where the SMH Rail of Malaysia proposal was one of the various smart partnership initiatives put forward.
Along with reviving and putting back into operation inactive locomotives, SMH Rail will also re-engineer the wagons and locomotives to operative standards and carry out regular maintenance for a specific period. In conjunction with this, TAZARA will be required to provide the grounded equipment, facilities and manpower to work with SMH Rail experts and trainers.
A further requirement that TAZARA have to consider and agree on is how much they will payback to SMH Rail to recoup its investment. Once the programme goes fully operational and freight revenue streams are increased as a consequence of the work, both parties will have to mutually agree on the level and period of the payback.
Mr Mbikusita-Lewanika, said in a statement issued in Lusaka last week about the collaboration with SMH Rail and the Smart Partnership, “This is a very positive prospect we are eager to examine and carry out. In this regard we are innovating and seizing options outside the box for securing and paying back in all feasible ways towards expanding our capacity and offering efficient services to our customers, even from the position of a weak financial base. Even as we wait for long-term measures towards comprehensively recapitalising, reconstructing and restructuring TAZARA, we are actively, variously and imaginatively looking for medium-term smart partnerships".