World Bulletin/News Desk
The Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) has suspended all rail activity between the two countries due to financial problems.
"Train operations between Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and New Kapiri-Mposhi, Zambia are suspended from this week until further notice," spokesman Conrad Simuchile told The Anadolu Agency.
He noted that, for several months, the authority had been unable to pay salaries – or even buy spare parts for its locomotives.
Employees have gone on strike demanding the immediate payment of unpaid salaries for the last five months.
"We have been operating at a loss since April of last year," said Simuchile.
"As a result of longstanding operational challenges that have seen TAZARA operating at a loss, the authority has been unable to meet most operational costs," he added.
According to Simuchile, TAZARA's target had been to transport more than 35,000 tons per month. But instead, he said, it had barely transported 10,000 tons a month.
"This has severely impacted the authority's income and revenue source," he asserted.
Government officials from Tanzania and Zambia have held several meetings to brainstorm ways of resolving the problem, but nothing has materialized yet.
According to Simuchele, the two governments promised in July of last year to provide $25 million to support the railway.
"The two governments have been promising to inject funds to support the authority's operations, but not one coin has been released so far," he lamented.
Yasin Mleke, acting chairman of the Tanzania Railways Authority Workers Trade Union, said they have engaged in dialogue with the Tanzanian and Zambian governments on one side and TAZARA on the other in hopes of solving the railway's financial problems.
The Trade Union Confederation of Tanzania (TUCTA) has also intervened in the issue.
"We are very concerned about workers' welfare," TUCTA President Gratian Mukoba Mukoba told AA.
"They have fulfilled their obligations; they are entitled to receive their salaries on time," he said.
The single-track railroad, also known as the Uhuru (Swahili for "freedom") Railway, was built in the 1970s with an interest free loan totaling Yuan 988 million from China.
At the time of its completion, the 1860-kilometer railway was considered sub-Saharan Africa's longest.
It sought to give landlocked Zambia access to the Indian Ocean without passing through Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa, both of which had been ruled by white-minority governments at the time.
Last Mod: 14 Ocak 2015, 23:52