Tanzania-Zambia railway set to get $2.8 mln lifeline

Tanzania will pay 6 billion shillings ($2.71 million) to bail out the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA), a railway firm that connects Africa’s two biggest copper producers to Tanzania’s Indian Ocean port, a company spokesman said.

The loss-making railway line is a key route for copper exports through the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam from Zambia and Africa’s biggest producer, the Democratic Republic of Congo.

But it sometimes struggles to pay its workers, prompting strikes, and it has been hit by a slump in cargo and passenger traffic and undercapitalization over the past decade.

“The government of Tanzania has promised to release 6 billion shillings in the coming two weeks to bail out the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA),” spokesman Conrad Simuchile said in a statement.

At its peak between 2004 and 2008, TAZARA transported some 120,000 tonnes of copper every six months. TAZARA’s freight volumes plunged to less than 90,000 metric tonnes in 2014/15, compared to about 630,000 metric tonnes in 2004/05.

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