THE Chinese government appreciates the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) as a symbol of friendship among Zambia, Tanzania and China and pledged continued support through limited aid.
A delegation of Chinese officials, which visited TAZARA to check on the progress of the projects financed through the 14th and 15th Protocols on Economic and Technical Cooperation said the country valued TAZARA.
Delegation leader, Chen Rong, who is the division director from the Executive Bureau of International and Economic Co-operation in the Ministry of Commerce, said China fully appreciated TAZARA.
Ms Chen said China would always support TAZARA in the form of limited aid.
“However, the assistance from China cannot solve all the problems of TAZARA, although we hope this limited aid can help to resolve some of the most critical challenges,” Mrs Chen said.
This is according to a statement issued by TAZARA head of public relations Conrad Simuchile and made available to the Times of Zambia in Lusaka yesterday.
During the occasion TAZARA managing director Ronald Phiri said he had a lot of hope and confidence that given the appropriate equipment and financial support to bring about transformation, the future of TAZARA was bright.
“On a personal level, I have a lot of hope because I meet many customers, potential customers and companies who express strong desire to completely do away with road transportation and move to rail transportation, which is a strong indication of the potential market for TAZARA,” Mr Phiri said.
He said that it was, however, saddening to note that TAZARA was currently failing to meet the expectations of the few clients at its disposal in terms of the transit times, predictability and reliability.
This is due to frequent breakdowns and disruptions in its operations, which was a consequence of the rundown equipment and infrastructure.
“If we can be equipped, therefore, the future is great,” he said.
Mr Phiri said even if the current aid from China was limited it had always come in handy and kept TAZARA going even in times when the company could otherwise have grounded to a halt.
Mr Phiri cited the time TAZARA was running with six to 10 locomotives, but with the utilisation of spare parts procured under the arrangement, the fleet of locomotives increased to an average of 12 locomotives per day.
He said this was further boosted to over 18 locomotives per day following the receipt of six new ones in the last three months under the 14th Protocol.