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SPEECH BY THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT OF TANZANIA DURING 35 ANNIVERSARY OF TAZARA ON 14 SEPTEMBER, 2011
   

With a lot of humbleness and at the same time with a lot of pride I stand here to welcome you to this special occasion to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the TAZARA, the Uhuru Railway as it is popularly and fondly known, underscoring the spirit and the purpose of its construction between the two sister nations of Tanzania and Zambia with friendly assistance by the People’s Republic of China - a railway line of great meaning, and a symbol of freedom, freedom, friendship, unity, perseverance, performance and success. Today is a moment deserving happiness and celebration from all counts and I am very glad and grateful that this occasion is graced by the presence of deserving representatives of the great leaders of our three nations who engineered this great project and natured it to its realisation. When we remember key events and see great monuments like the TAZARA surviving and prospering we continue to appreciate Mwalimu Nyerere's contribution to the development of our nation, to African solidarity and to world peace and harmony even as we notice his absence. I wish he were here today. We had also hoped that Dr. Kenneth Kaunda would be here but as we regrettably learnt he could not make it because of health conditions. We wish him quick recovery.

My task this morning is simple and short - to welcome you all and at the same time invite His Excellency Dr. Mohammed Gharib Bilal to officiate this occasion as the guest of honour.

So allow me to extend a warm welcome, once again, to all of you. I appreciate your presence here very highly, and I do that on behalf the Ministry of Transport of the United Republic of Tanzania, the TAZARA council of Ministers and the complete TAZARA fraternity from the TAZARA Board of Directors to every member of management and staff. Your presence is a big encouragement to all of us.

This 35th anniversary coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Independence of Tanganyika, and occasion that the United Republic of Tanzania has decided to celebrate throughout the year with this week of celebration being dedicated to the sector of transport. It is therefore quite befitting to celebrate the 35th anniversary of TAZARA as part of the achievements of Tanzania in fifty years of its independence.

TAZARA has served our two nations well as a vehicle for transportation and socio-economic integration through the transportation of goods and passengers and its allied activities in our two nations and indeed in the whole Southern African region. And many examples of its contributions in that sense could be cited. Whereas it served history and the politics satisfactorily it continues to serve the economics very well and it has a lot of room to increase its services in this area as economic development becomes the focus of our survival, prosperity and sustainability. It is a vehicle that can launch our nations to higher areas of development that we are yet to explore, given the freedom of choice and empowerment of its management and the right to compete, with associated responsibility, accountability and prerequisite autonomy, to do so.

During the 35 years, through TAZARA, Tanzania, Zambia and China managed to strengthen their political and socio-economic relationship through frequent meetings, visits, working sessions, training and inductive cultural experiences. This has resulted into a big bank of cultural and technical sharing with enviable friendship among the three countries and their citizens.

TAZARA played a key role in the liberation of Southern Africa as a means of transportation during the struggle when there were hardly any other alternatives. Indeed it deserves to be called the "Uhuru railway".

TAZARA catalysed the growth of hitherto small settlements of Mlimba, Makambako, Ifakara, Chozi, Mpika and Kapir Mposhi, to mention but a few, to big towns that continue to grow. In many of such areas TAZARA is the only reliable means of transport bringing the people in these areas into the main stream economies of the two countries as business and even life partners in the true spirit of the African Unity.

As a business performer TAZARA has in the last 35 years transported 50 million passengers, 28 million tonnes of freight and 100 million parcels serving not only Tanzania and Zambia but also the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Zimbabwe, the Great Lakes Region and South Africa and generally in the tripartite regional groupings of SADC, COMESA and EAC, providing regular, reliable, cheap and safe transport services. All these activities have made TAZARA a key contributor to employment in the region providing stable employment to more than one million citizens of Tanzania and Zambia over the years.

TAZARA is more relevant today than it was 35 years ago. It will continue to provide its services for a long time given sufficient support through investment and continuous development to offer more efficient services as a major logistical solution in decongesting the roads and providing cheap, effective and efficient access to seaports for import/export goods to and fro the region.

Like any other organization TAZARA faces operational, management and financial challenges but these are not insurmountable and are being addressed by the three Governments of Tanzania, Zambia and China which have signed the 14th Protocol to improve the infrastructure and the rolling stock of the railway through the assistance offered by the People's Republic of China. The implementation of this protocol has already started with delivery of 90 new wagons as mentioned by the TAZARA Managing Director. We thank the government of China very much for this assistance and for continuation of our mutual good relationship and friendship. With such sustainability of its services, I believe very strongly that our long term objective of modernizing TAZARA by bringing new technology, improve operations through capacity building and improved management to make TAZARA operate more efficiently will be achieved.

The Government of Tanzania reaffirms its full commitment to supporting TAZARA and steering its progress and development for the mutual benefit of our countries and peoples. My Ministry will continue to exchange information and experience on such pertinent issues with a view to cementing further this relationship and extending it to other areas of mutual interest.

At this juncture, let me express my thanks to the organization of this very important, special event for all the preparations, the assistance and arrangement that have made these celebrations take place.

This is indeed the day of celebration of 35 years of TAZARA's existence but it is also the start of contemplating and planning for its successful future. I wish all distinguished guests and all participants to enjoy the occasion as you reflect on how best to support TAZARA so that it continues to serve our countries and our region well.

It is now my singular honour, privilege and pleasure to welcome His Excellency, Dr. Mohammed Gharib Bilal, the Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania to address us and grace this particular occasion and officially open the Transport Sector celebration of 50 years of our independence. Mr. Vice President, Sir, your floor, your audience.

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