Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Tanzania set for SGR second phase project

After the launching of the first Standard Gauge Railaway line from Dar es Salam to Morogori that was done in March 2017, plans are afoot to officially launch the second phase of the project worth 1.923 billion US dollar (over 4tri/-) construction of the 336-kilometre Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Morogoro to Dodoma. The groundbreaking ceremony to lay a foundation stone that signals the kicking off of the second phase of the SGR project is scheduled at Makutupora area in the country’s capital, Dodoma, according to Reli Assets Holding Company (RAHCO). The second phase of the country’s ambitious project comes barely nine months after President John Magufuli launched the first phase of theSGR, which according to RAHCO Acting Managing Director, Masanja Kadogosa, is progressing well. Phase two of SGR stretches from Morogoro to the political capital of Dodoma, covering 336 kilometres. Once the project is complete, the government plans to introduce fast and a modern train with a speed of 160kph. The freight train on the other side will have a maximum speed of 120kph. Speaking in an interview ’ Mr Kadogosa said the second phase of the project whose completion is set in 2020 is due for commencement and all preparations are in order. “We are currently finalizing the logistics within the government and later we will notify the public as to when we will lay the foundation stone for the project,’’ he said. The government of Turkey expressed interest to fund the SGR project from Morogoro to Dodoma when President Recep Erdogan toured Tanzania last year. 

The second phase includes the design and construction of 336 kilometres from Morogoro to Makutopora. Other phases will cover the 294 kilometres from Makutupora to Tabora, 133 kilometres from Tabora to Isaka and 294 kilometres from Isaka to Mwanza. On the first phase, RAHCO chief expressed optimism that the team on the site was progressing well, saying the work will be accomplished within the set deadline. The first phase of the SGR project is expected to be completed in 2019. In April 2017, President John Magufuli laid the foundation stone for the construction of the first historic SGR line in East and Central Africa, with the capacity to transport 10,000 tonnes of cargo at once, with potential of creating over one million jobs upon completion in 2019. During the historic event at Pugu, some few kilometres west of Dar es Salaam City, Dr Magufuli stressed that his administration focuses on improving infrastructure to expedite the country’s economic growth. The 1.215 billion US dollar (about 2.7 tri/-) project that is currently being executed by the contractors, YapiMerkezi of Turkey and Mota-Engil of Portugal, is expected to create over 600,000 job opportunities, including 30,000 direct jobs. The 30-month project will upon completion enable trains to travel at 160 kilometres per hour. It will also comprise 300 kilometres railway line, with 205 kilometres being the main line and 95 kilometres intersections. There will also be six main stations and six mini-stations for intersections. And, upon completion, the electrified train will take two hours to travel from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma and after the whole project is complete, it will take less than 10 hours to reach Mwanza, the same distance that currently trains use up to 36 hours to cover

Tanzania-Rwanda SGR envisaged strengthening EAC member countries

The E decision by Tanzania and Rwanda to construct a Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) connecting the two countries is billed to strengthen the East African Community (EAC) infrastructure strategy and its integration process. The agreement by Presidents John Magufuli and Paul Kagame to put in place a network for connecting Isaka in Shinyanga to Kigali, which will also haul cargo to Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), would hugely boost the regional business and infrastructure strategy. This comes ahead of the Fourth EAC Heads of State Retreat on Infrastructure Development and Financing scheduled for next month in Kampala, Uganda. A professor of economics at Mzumbe University, Mr Prosper Honest Ngowi, told the ‘Daily News’ yesterday that the decision of the duo would unlock business opportunities in the short and long term, from which landlocked countries in the bloc would benefit immensely. The don noted that in the short term, the construction activities of the SGR would stimulate economic activities directly and indirectly along the railway line, saying the quick wins would depend on local content – if local companies would supply materials and locals would be hired in the project. Prof Ngowi said that in the long run, EAC member states would take advantage of the railway line and emerging business opportunities in different countries, Tanzania becoming the hub for those landlocked countries within the community, thereby fast-tracking the integration agenda. The EAC Head of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Department at the EAC Secretariat Headquarters here, Mr Owora Othieno, explained that the retreat, starting on February 22, seeks to support infrastructure development to facilitate regional integration and socio-economic development in the bloc. Three retreats have been held so far; in 2008, 2012 and 2014. During the second retreat, the leaders institutionalized the retreat on infrastructure development and financing at two-yearly intervals. Infrastructure being one of the most critical enablers of a successful regional integration and taking into account its importance in facilitating activities such as trade, agriculture, tourism and the movement of labour and other resources, the EAC Treaty states that the partner states’ provision of basic infrastructure shall be one of the operational principles of the community under Article 7 (b). In different environs in the recent past, the East African Business Council (EABC), in its communiqué, spoke out on the current poor state of railway systems in EAC that are antiquated and are over 100 years old. EABC Chief Executive Officer, Ms Lilian Awinja, talked of non-availability of much wanted urban rail and that there was no significant new or efficient interurban rail. However, she hailed efforts being made to improve the railway systems in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. She said there was a need for consistently and speedily addressing infrastructure constraints given their contribution to business competitiveness. EABC has been vocal in lobbying for a timetable of implementing the planned developments for both medium and long term plans with measurable deliverables along the process.

Tanzania and Mozambique enters in agreement to curb crimes

TANZANIA and Mozambique police forces have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will see the two sides cooperating in curbing terrorism, drugs trafficking and other cross-border crimes in East Africa and neighbouring countries.  The Inspectors General of Police (IGP) from Tanzania and Mozambique, Simon Sirro and Bernardino Rafael, signed the document yesterday at the Ministry of Home Affairs offices in Dar es Salaam, which provides for an exchange of intelligence information to safeguard the interest of both parties. Before putting ink on paper, IGP Sirro revealed to reporters that, after operations carried out by the Tanzania Police Force in Ikwiriri, Kibiti (Coast Region) and some parts of Mtwara Region prompted by indiscriminate killings, some perpetrators had crossed over to neigbouring Mozambique. “If they crossed the border to our neighbours, it doesn’t mean we are safe, we have to work with our counterparts from Mozambique to deal with these criminals,” IGP Sirro emphasized. He noted that there was a report to the effect that four people allegedly linked to the violence in Coast Region and crossed the border, had been killed in Mozambique, saying since East Africa and neighbouring countries were committed on fighting all forms of crime, it was difficult for the perpetrators to hide in any of those countries without being arrested. 

Tanzania's Inspector General of Police Simon Siro

“If you hide in Rwanda, Congo, Burundi and Mozambique, you are not safe we are working together and we share intelligence information. Africa is one and we are cooperating with our colleagues in the rest of East Africa and Africa simply because we want people to live peacefully,” IGP Sirro said. His Mozambican counterpart IGP Bernardino Rafael, thanked the Tanzanian government and its people after signing the MoU which aims at enabling the two sides to fight cross-border crimes, terrorism and extremism that endangered the lives of the people. “We want to fight crimes in collaboration with Tanzania; we have to keep our borders safe,” IGP Rafael said, adding that the agreements would enable both countries to translate the idea into reality. Apart from that, IGP Rafael said that the Mozambican Police Force would want to get experience from their Tanzanian counterparts in protecting natural resources. “Our Police Force was trained here (Tanzania) and we want to become strong, if we become strong, the Tanzanian side would be strong too,” the IGP added. In the area of security, the East African Community (EAC) is to foster and maintain a favourable atmosphere that was a pre-requisite to social and economic development through co-operation and consultations on issues pertaining to peace and security of the partner states.

Banana food to become a scarce commodity in Arusha

The bananas popularly known as ‘Bitoke’ in some other African vernacular languages is the favourite staple food among many residents in the Northern Zone regions. The food  may soon become scarce in Arusha where large estates of such crops have been destroyed by cyclones, accompanying by the ongoing rains.  The ‘Mto-wa-Mbu’ Division of Monduli District, where most of the banana consignments of Arusha come from, seems to have mostly suffered the agricultural loss, since all the local banana plantations, according to the farmers there, have fallen under the power of downpour mixed with windstorms. One of the farmers, Mr Mrisho Ramson, revealed here that the Majengo area of Mto-wa-Mbu suffered more losses. “And this is where all dessert and cooking bananas sent to Arusha, Singida, Manyara and Dodoma originate from,” he said. He added that these precincts will face banana shortage in the first half of 2018. Majengo and Mgombani areas alone produce up to 1,000 bunches of bananas per day and the entire Mto-wa-Mbu area yields nearly 2,000 bunches per day but after the farm destructions, the areas produce just 70 bunches in a day. 

As the result, prices for bananas have hit record high, a single banana finger fetches 120/- instead of the usual 70/- at Mto wa Mbu. The price climbs once the bananas are taken elsewhere. Mwalimu Khamis Nyungu, is another resident of Mto-wa- Mbu. He explained that, in the past the area had trees’ cover which used to block the winds. But now residents of the area have cut down the forests to expand their farms. “There is nothing to block the wind or reduce the force of water, therefore, whenever it rains, the area suffers floods and landslides, but when cyclones hit the precinct farms faced destruction,” said Mr Nyungu. The Chairman of Majengo Village, Mr Raymond Muro said the incidences of banana plantations falling under pressure of storms are common things in the area and there is nothing they can do about it. He, however, admitted that the current catastrophe was the worst. He said banana plants take up to eight months before becoming productive and that the shortage of such staple will affect the Northern Zone regions until next August.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

If an opposition praises the government in power, this is a political maturity


President John Magufuli today, for the first time since he was elected, met former premier Edward Lowassa --his closest challenger in the 2015 polls. They met at the Dar es Salaam’s State House with Mr Lowassa who praised the head of state for a strong and committed administration.“I’m so happy for this golden opportunity, we have held talks on various issues with the president…he is really doing a great and commendable job, we must admit this,” Mr Lowassa, the 2015 opposition flag bearer said. He commended the president over a number of achievements including employment creation, execution of flagship projects such as Stigler’s Gorge electricity and Standard Gauge Railway projects.On his part, President Magufuli congratulated Mr Lowassa for recognizing great job done by the government.