Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete has directed the ministry of transport to speed up preparations for the construction of a railway to link the port of Tanga on the Indian Ocean to Uganda. Speaking to officials in Dar-es-Salaam during a mid-March working tour, Kikwete said its implementation will ease the transporting of Ugandan exports and imports, and reduce haulage costs significantly.
The line he pointed out will realise a dream of former President Julius Nyerere who said, “We should struggle hard to make a reality of the construction of this (Tanga-Uganda) railway.”
Though there is an existing railway from Tanga to Arusha, it has been out of use for many years. According to Kikwete, the metre gauge needs replacing with standard and an extension [of about 650km] is required from Arusha to Musoma on Lake Victoria.
Today, most Ugandan exports and imports use the Kenyan port of Mombasa. Some years ago, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni urged Tanzania to dedicate the port of Tanga to Ugandan traffic, to provide an alternative route to the sea. Ugandan, Rwandan and Burundi traders have complained of delays at the port of Dar, apart from losing goods, among other grievances. Diverting goods through the port of Tanga could relieve these traders and increase the volume of trade as well.
He expects, President Kikwete added, that the proposed new railway would link eventually with the port of Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
[ Kisangani, well over 1,000km to the west from the western shore of Lake Victoria, functions as a port by virtue of its location on the Congo River. – editor