Dar es Salaam. The government has clarified the delay on the first trial of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line from Dar es Salaam to Morogoro, which was scheduled to happen before the end of July this year.
Speaking exclusively to The Chanzo on Tuesday, Government Chief Spokesperson Gerson Msigwa repeated the same reason that led to the delay of the trial in May, which is the delay of locomotives from the German manufacturer.
“The trials never happened because we are yet to receive the two locomotives we expect from the manufacturer,” Mr Msigwa said during a telephone interview. “There has been a challenge concerning spare parts, leading to the late arrival of the locomotives to Tanzania.”
It is important to recall that Mr Msigwa gave a similar explanation when asked about the trial delay during his June 1 press conference in the capital Dodoma. The government recently promised that the trials would occur in May. The delay has given some impression that the government is not straight forward about the issue.
“The government was not lying to Tanzanians when it maintained it would conduct tests in May,” Mr Msigwa told reporters on June 1, 2023. “It could not do so owing to circumstances beyond its control.”
Msigwa said then that the German manufacturer of two locomotives relies on spare parts from Canada and has been delayed in receiving them for various reasons, including the global economic crisis caused by COVID-19 and the war between Ukraine and Russia, promising Tanzanians that the locomotive would arrive in July.
But the locomotives are yet to arrive in the country, Mr Msigwa told The Chanzo, failing to give an exact date on which they can be expected to arrive in Tanzania. He also declined to say when would the trial begin, saying the exercise would happen only after the locomotives had arrived in the country.
The government has postponed the trials since as early as 2020 when it reported that the construction of the Dar to Morogoro section of the SGR line has been completed by 90 per cent.
The Chanzo asked Mr Msigwa if the delay had anything to do with the reported strike involving nearly 2,000 Turkish workers employed by the Turkish construction company Yapı Merkezi to build the Tabora-Isaka section of the SGR line.
According to reports, the workers, which include Tanzanian workers, have been on strike since August 5, demanding payment of their unpaid wages for the past seven months.
On Friday, when the strike entered its seventh day, the Yapı Merkezi workers stated that they would continue with the strike until their voices were heard and received their wages.
Yapi Merkezi told Turkish media that it was unaware of the strike among its workers, declining to answer related questions.
Mr Msigwa also told The Chanzo that he was unaware of the strike, saying that it does not play any role in delaying the SGR trials.
“I’m unaware of such a strike,” Mr Msigwa said during the interview. “It does not have any role in delaying the trials of the SGR, as I’ve just explained what actually is behind the delay.”
In January this year, Yapı Merkezi, a Türkiye-based construction company, launched the construction of the 4th phase of the SGR project, the Tabora –Isaka section, whose construction is supposed to be completed in 42 months from January 2023.
The 4th phase from Tabora to Isaka comes after the first, second, and third phases of the Dar Salaam-Mwanza Railway in Tanzania. Yapı Merkezi undertook to build all the pieces of construction of three stations between the cities of Tabora and Isaka.
According to the MoU, the company is also responsible for constructing a maintenance workshop, depot area, an administrative building, a Railway Institute, and a 165-km-long single-track railway with sidetracks, signalling, telecommunications and electrification work.
Once completed, the SGR will be the longest railway line constructed by a Turkish contractor and the fastest in East Africa.
Hadija Said is The Chanzo’s journalist from Dar es Salaam. She can be contacted via email@example.com.