Dar es Salaam takes back Zambian copper

Sep 24, 2003
Author: P&S

According to reports published in the Business Times of Dar es Salaam, the Tanzanian port has begun winning back exports of Zambian copper from other ports to the south, principally at the expense of Durban.

The newspaper reported that in June 2003 Dar es Salaam handled 11,884 tonnes of Zambian copper compared with 3,341 tonnes handled at the port of Durban. By July Dar es Salaam had increased the volume handled to 13,312 tonnes.

The report says the increase is a result of a decision taken by the Konkola Mines Company in Zambia to route its copper exports through Tanzania using the Tazara Railway (Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority) in future.

“The largest copper mining company in Zambia, the Konkola, has decided tom use the rail that connects its mining fields deep in Zambia to the Kapiri Mposhi rail terminal. From there, the commodity is hauled by the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (Tazara) to Dar. As it is, the Zambia Railways does not have enough capacity to haul the amount of copper being mined, tonnage-wise,” the newspaper source said.

Some Background:

The Tazara Railway (or Tanzam as it was once known) was completed in 1976 by the Chinese as an alternative to landlocked countries in Central Southern Africa to avoid using apartheid South African ports via the then UDI country of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Of the total of 1860 km of this remarkable railway, 960 are in Tanzania itself terminating at the port of Dar es Salaam. The gauge is 1065mm (3ft 6ins) matching that of Zambia, Zimbabwe and South African railway systems, whereas the remaining Tanzania (and East African) railways are built to the metre gauge.

Tazara itself underwent its own ups and downs requiring recent rehabilitation. Meanwhile the railways of Zambia, Zimbabwe and to an extent South Africa have experienced serious shortages of rolling stock including locomotives, with Zambia Railways being forced for financial reasons to sell off its most modern diesel-electric locomotive fleet, while its once good condition trackage has deteriorated severely through poor maintenance.

Much of the same applies to NRZ (National Railways of Zimbabwe) with both railway systems being subsequently prepared for privatisation.

Ignoring interstate rivalries, the future of the entire Southern African Development Community (SADC) region depends on inter-port and inter-railway logistical co-operation, and therefore the above report carries with it good news for the entire SADC region.

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