Tanzania’s standard gauge railway (SGR) will undergo its first formal testing in May, after the completion of the construction of the first phase in April.
Speaking to The EastAfrican in Dar es Salaam this week, SGR project manager Machibya Masanja said construction is going on around the clock to meet the April deadline.
He said test runs will be held over three months before the railway’s official inauguration, which will allow goods and passenger services to commence.
The first phase covers 300 kilometres from Dar es Salaam to Morogoro, and is 72 per cent complete.
It was initially scheduled to be ready last November, but heavy rains disrupted the works. The meteorological department has issued a warning of heavy rainfall expected in March and April.
The first deadline was missed when the drilling works for a tunnel near Morogoro, building of bridges and placement of culverts were paralysed by heavy rains.
The first phase will have six main stations at Dar es Salaam, Pugu, Soga, Ruvu, Ngerengere and Morogoro, with the Dar es Salaam and Morogoro stations being the largest.
Mr Masanja said construction works on the second phase of the project, covering 422 kilometres from Morogoro to Makutupora in Dodoma, started four months ago and 20 per cent of the work is done.
Contractors Yapi Merkezi of Turkey and Mota-Engil Africa of Portugal are jointly handling the first and second phases of the project, but separate tenders will be floated for the three remaining phases of Makutupora-Tabora (294km), Tabora-Isaka (133km) and Isaka-Mwanza (248km).
The 1,457km-long SGR project is estimated to cost $7.5 billion, with $600 million spent so far.
In December, Tanzania Railway Corporation director general Masanja Kadogosa said the railway will be extended to Rwanda and Burundi.