Lusaka – The Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority (Tazara) hauled 19 percent more freight in the first half of 2020 than it did in the preceding six months, defying the economic downturn occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Freight traffic volumes from in the first six months rose to 105,222 tonnes compared to 88,356 tonnes moved in July-December 2019.
With the 127,259 metric tonnes moved by Calabash Freight Ltd through open access operations, the total line capacity utilisation for the first half of 2020/2021 aggregated to 232,481 tonnes. This compared to a combined volume of 194,726 tonnes hauled in the preceding six months.
However, the report by the Tazara board shows that while freight volumes were up, passenger traffic was down as a direct consequence on restrictions on movement of people as a virus control measure.
Overall passenger traffic declined by 4.3 percent to 1,478,032, from 1,544,068 passengers recorded in the preceding half-year.
Tazara generated US$14.88 million revenue during the period under review, an increase of 19.4 percent on the US$12.56 million from the prior six months.
The board is projecting US$45.71 million operational and non-operational income for the year. The revenue target from freight and passenger services is estimated at US$36.03 million.
A total US$9.67 million is expected to be realized from other non-traffic revenues, including from open access operations. The total operating expenditure projected in the budget period is US$45.71 million
The Tazara board is also pushing a new business plan to boost the fortunes of the 46-year-old logistics joint venture so that it becomes self-sustaining and stops relying on government subsidies.
The board indicated the Council of Ministers would soon meet to consider the turnaround proposals to revitalise the 1,760km rail line.
Tazara’s board met virtually on April 28, and it comprises the Secretaries for Transport in Tanzania and Zambia, Mr Gabriel Migire and Engineer Misheck Lungu respectively.