An electric dam delays the launch of an electric train in Tanzania

By BOB KARASHANI

Tanzanians will wait longer to board an electric train, thanks to delays in the completion of the Julius Nyerere Dam which is expected to generate electricity to power locomotive engines on the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).

According to officials, the construction schedule for the dam has been redone and the completion date pushed back to 2024.

Officials announced this week that service trials on the 300-kilometre Dar es Salaam-Morogoro stretch of railway will be carried out from August.

Currently, engineers are examining the systems that will power the engines of the locomotives on the line which was launched on Saturday, an activity which should be completed within three months. This will be followed by the official launch of a passenger train, according to the Tanzania Railways Corporation (TRC). Two electric locomotive motors had been purchased by Turkish construction company Yapı Merkezi for use in testing on the line.

Already, says TRC public relations officer Jamila Mbarouk, people have been advised to stay away from the railway line during the trial period.

However, the Rufiji River Power Project, which was expected to start operating next month and provide 2,115 megawatts of power, will be completed in 2024. According to Tanzania Electricity Corporation (Tanesco) Managing Director Maharage Chande, various challenges meant the schedule for the $2.9 billion project. should be stretched to “at the earliest in 2024”.

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A new deadline for the launch of the dam will be determined after the completion of a joint assessment of the project with the Egyptian contractors, Chande said.

He noted that the postponement was not related to project funding issues “but to other factors.”

The dam located in the Stiegler Gorge on the Rufiji River in Tanzania is being built through a joint venture between two Egyptian companies, Arab Contractors and Elsewedy Electric.

Construction began in December 2018 with an initial execution time of 42 months. Mr. Chande’s announcement follows recent revelations in a government audit report that the power utility is facing compensation claims from contractors for breach of contract. According to Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Charles Kichere’s findings, frequent power outages at the project site caused work stoppages which led the contractors to file an $8.53 million claim with Tanesco.

According to CAG, the project was only 48.02% complete instead of the 94.47% expected in October 2021. Among the reasons for the delay are the Covid-19 pandemic, the design and the flooding of the river. Rufiji.

Mr Chande said the project was 58.8% complete in March.

“The original plan was to complete it by June but it has become clear that this is no longer possible. it won’t be until 2024,” he said.

Ahmed El-Assar, senior vice president of Arab Contractors, told an Egyptian government delegation visiting the project site in December last year that other challenges included the location in dense forest and difficulties in selecting the right manufacturer and exporter for the boom. turbines.

Heavy flooding on the Rufiji River also at one point sank work equipment during the construction of the project’s river diversion tunnel, Asser told the delegation led by Egypt’s Housing Minister Assem El -Gazar.

The first of nine turbines with a capacity of 235 MW each was installed in August 2021. Tanesco officials said in July last year that the construction of a 400 kilovolt transmission line to a substation The cooling plant at Chalinze in the coastal region had already started to allow immediate integration of electricity into the national grid once the dam starts operating.

The 160-kilometre transmission line was being built by an Indian company, Larsen & Toubro Construction Company, the power company said. However, Department of Energy sources confirmed to The EastAfrican this week that work on the transmission line and cooling facility is also still far behind.

– Additional reporting by Emmanuel Onyango

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