Kindly withhold my identity for security reasons. Have mercy and kindly publish this article. As simple as it may appear, it will really help a lot of the Zambian People who are facing hardships traveling on the Tazara Train from Kaipiri Mposhi to Dar-es-Salaam.
The situation is extremely serious. I would to bring to your attention and indeed to the attention of everyone on the challenges faced by passengers traveling on a Zambian owned Mukuba Passenger train. I travelled from New Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia to Dar-Es-Salaam in Tanzania by Zambia’s Mukuba Passenger Train that was from 5th May 2015 to 11th May 2015
The couches for Mukuba Passenger Train are extremely few as compared to the number of passengers using the train. Originally, the train is supposed to be carrying 20 couches that is; 5 Third Class Couches, 3 First Class Couches, 3 Second Class Couches, 1 Supper Seater Couch, 2 kitchen or Dining Car Couch, 1 Lodge Car Couch, 1 Staff Couch and 4 Luggage Vans. Instead of carrying the above number of couches, the Zambian Passenger Train only carries half of the couches. My investigations have revealed that this kind of arrangement has led to the injury and suffocation of a lot of people travelling on this train. This is because the reduction of couches by the TAZARA Management means the train is carrying 3 times the normal number of passengers it was designed to carry. Currently the Mukuba Passenger Train is running with 2 third class couches, 3 First class couches and no single Second class couch not even a supper seater. This means passengers have to squeeze themselves like animals that are heading on their slaughtering table. The problem of overcrowding on this train is pathetic and the government just needs to do something. The other challenge that passengers are facing as they take on TAZARA; one of the longest train journeys in the world is that of frustration and humiliation being administers by the TAZARA Officials to the Tanzanian side particularly at Mbeya Railway Station.
These officials make sure that passengers travelling on the Zambian Train are mistreated by detaining the train for 6 to 8 hours without reasons.
When you are in Tanzania, spirit of segregation against fellow partners is extremely active. Tanzanians are really segregating the Zambian fellow workers. My further investigation reviewed that the major reasons why the Tanzanians detain the Zambian Train unnecessarily in Mbeya is that they would like the passengers to get frustrated and stop using the Zambian Train and opt to using theirs ‘Kilimanjaro’. And when it is their train going to Zambian, the Tanzanians ensures that it reaches Nakonde before 17:00 hours so that it attracts a lot of customers on the Zambian side. This is 100% unfair and the Zambian Government should come to the aid of TAZARA Passengers traveling on the Zambian Train so that they don’t feel victimized by the Tanzanian TAZARA Officials. The other unfortunate incident that occurred for me and other passengers as we traveled to Dar-es-Salaam was the issue to do with the famous 21 tunnels found on the Tanzanian side. The Locomotive Engine pulling the Mukuba Express Train had to break down whilst in one of the longest tunnels and close to 2000 passengers nearly suffocated to death. People wondered how a train can stop moving in an area that is extremely hot with very little oxygen. This is a clear indication of how TAZARA is almost collapsing. Reaching Dar-Es-Salaam, the resting room (Lodge) for the people with First Class Tickets is extremely pathetic. With the heavy rains that Dar-Es-Salaam is experiencing currently, the TAZARA Lodging room for passengers with First Class Tickets is full of water. Being in this so called First Class waiting room, is as bad as being outside or being at an open place where heavy rainfall falls on you directly. At Nakonde – Tunduma Boarder, the Migration Officers at the Zambian side makes mistakes of dating stumping the passports with wrong dates. This actually excites the Tanzanian Migation Officers who don’t hesitate in ordering the Zambian Passengers to disembark from the train and get back to the Zambia Migration side to have their dates corrected. What is more painful is the fact that many passengers will have already paid the fares to Dar-es-Salaam and no refund is allowed. I was equally sent back by the Tanzanian Migration Officers when my passport was wrongly date stamped by the Zambian Migration Officers and I was stranded for a lot of days in Nakonde because of that. But thank heavens I had money to pay for my food and meals, but my heart went to the underprivileged passengers who had to suffer at Nakonde -Tunduma Border because of incorrect date stampings.
We urge the government of the Republic of Zambia to sit with its counterpart and see how best the above problems can be solved. Otherwise, study has reviewed that a lot of people like traveling by the train because it is the safest means of traveling. So the government should come to the aid of its citizens. I expect Hon Kambwili to issue a government stance on the above challenges faced by the passengers traveling by the TAZARA Trains.