In 2011, presidents of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan sat down in Mombasa and ratify the development of the SGR master plan for the East Africa region. Tanzania was conspicuously missing in action as it opted to walk alone. Kenya then rushed to build its modern railway as Tanzania took back seat, learning from the mistakes of its neighbour, then retreated to plot how to do a better job.
Tanzania builds an electric railway line that moves almost twice as fast as the diesel-powered Kenyan line at half the cost. The line is powered by electricity from overhead lines. The train use concrete sleepers which improve durability and capacity to carry up to 35 tonnes per axle load. They are quiet compared to diesel locomotives since there is no engine and exhaust noise and less mechanical noise.
The program is being executed in five phases, including Morogoro- Mukutopora (348km), Mukutopora- Tabora (294km), Tabora-Isaka (130km) and Isaka- Mwanza (341km). It links neighbouring nations particularly Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and DRC to the outside world through the port of Dar es Salaam.
42 new electric locomotives from Germany and South Korea were delivered and run at a maximum speed of up to 160 km per hour. Kenya bought second-hand trains from France that run at speed of 120km. The state's power utility firm is supplying 70 MW of electricity to power the first phase of SGR. The locomotives have backup inbuilt power-saving systems that keep them charged for more than one hour. This enables them to run in case there is an electricity blackout.
Tanzanian government signed a contract that compel the contractor to train local engineers on how to operate SGR. It enables the local workforce to be competent in maintenance, signals and driving. The government used its resources to finance the construction while Kenya took Chinese loans.
SGR was one of campaigning platforms for CCM presidential candidate John Magufuli. He later implemented it but the opposition criticised him for initiating an elephant project that is not people-centred.
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The article was written and published by Millionaire Hustler from Kapkimolwa, Bomet county.
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