Tazara railway can be turned around, though it will require dollops of political will to do so. At first, it will necessitate a recognition that its current state is not ‘fixed’, even though it suits several key actors to keep it down and out. Turning the political economy of protecting privilege, plunder and survival into one of prosperity will lie at the heart of the railway’s transformation, as with any infrastructure in Africa, writes GREG MILLS.
‘Sklikktery klak… screeee… sklikkerty klak’ shaked, rattled and rolled the Tazara railway for 50 hours on the journey between Kapiri Mposhi in central Zambia to Dar es Salaam, 1,860kms away on the Indian Ocean. The brainchild of presidents Kenneth Kaunda and Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, a shared centrepiece of African solidarity, development and anti-colonialism, Tazara is today operational with four scheduled passenger services and infrequent freight trains, but only just. Last year Tazara carried less than 200,000 tonnes of freight, a long way from the five million tonne capacity installed by the Chinese in October 1975.
Just outside the railway station, Dar’s Tazara junction along Nyerere and Mandela roads is a metaphor for the chaos that surrounds the operation of the railway itself. Amid a…
Source : Daily Maverick