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Faith Nyasuguta 

Tanzania recently welcomed the arrival of the first batch of electric locomotives for its newly constructed standard gauge railway (SGR), slated to commence operations in July. 

The delivery comprised five electric multiple unit trains and three passenger coaches procured from Hyundai Rotem in South Korea. These cutting-edge trains, boasting a capacity to accommodate up to 589 passengers and capable of reaching speeds of 160km per hour, represent a significant advancement in Tanzania’s transportation infrastructure.

Designed with passenger comfort in mind, the state-of-the-art EMUs feature amenities such as Wi-Fi, designated seating for passengers with special needs, air conditioning, and CCTV cameras for enhanced security. 

The acquisition of this modern rolling stock marks a substantial investment in Tanzania’s railway system, aimed at improving efficiency, safety, and convenience for commuters.

Tanzania’s partnership with Hyundai Rotem materialized through a $295.74 million agreement signed on July 14, 2021, encompassing the procurement of 17 locomotives, 10 sets of EMUs, and an electric locomotive simulator. 

Minister for Transport, Professor Makame Mbarawa, expressed anticipation for the arrival of additional EMU trains on a monthly basis until October, highlighting the government’s commitment to advancing the SGR project.

The introduction of SGR electric trains heralds a new era in Tanzania’s transportation landscape, promising to significantly reduce travel time between Dar es Salaam and Morogoro. 

Once operational, the journey, currently taking four hours by bus or five hours by train on the old meter gauge railway, is expected to be shortened to approximately two hours. This development is poised to enhance connectivity and facilitate economic growth along the SGR corridor.

Despite facing delays since its inception in 2017, the SGR project has made substantial progress, with Phase 1 nearing completion and subsequent phases well underway. The project, slated for completion by 2025, holds the potential to transform Tanzania’s infrastructure and stimulate regional trade and integration.

Economist Churchill Ogutu underscores the transformative impact of the SGR on Tanzania’s economy, predicting increased infrastructure investments along the railway corridor. He emphasizes the project’s significance in bolstering trade and investment within the wider East African region, particularly along the Central Transport Corridor.

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The Central Corridor, vital for trade and transportation in East and Central Africa, connects Dar es Salaam to landlocked nations such as Rwanda, Burundi, and the eastern regions of DR Congo. Leveraging Tanzania’s existing railway infrastructure and road network, the corridor offers a strategic alternative to the Northern Corridor, facilitating access to the Indian Ocean for traders in Rwanda, Burundi, and DR Congo.

Tanzania’s acquisition of SGR electric trains signifies a monumental step forward in its efforts to modernize transportation infrastructure and foster economic development. With the potential to revolutionize connectivity and trade dynamics within the region, the SGR project holds immense promise for Tanzania’s future prosperity.


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Faith Nyasuguta

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