Dakar: Railroad transport to Tamba resumes soon

New locomotives should start running in less than three months between the two Senegalese cities of Dakar and Tamba, which…

New locomotives should start running in less than three months between the two Senegalese cities of Dakar and Tamba, which are more than 450 kilometres apart.By Oumar Dembélé 

The Director General of the Railways of Senegal (CFS), Kibily Touré, gave the assurance on Monday 6 September at the launch of maintenance work on the railroad linking the capital Dakar to the eastern city of Tambacounda, located not far from the border with Mali.

He said that this step is an important prerequisite “so that next December, we can run locomotives at an average distance of 50 km per hour” on this axis where the service was stopped since 2018.

 Inaugurated in 1924, the Dakar-Bamako colonial line has slowly declined due to lack of maintenance. 

Privatised in 2003, the Senegalese and Malian authorities had taken control with the creation of the Dakar-Bamako Ferroviaire in 2016. 

But the commissioning of the line has been delayed until now.

 Some people point to successive regime change in Mali as the reason for this situation, even though the Senegalese authorities still seem motivated to carry on with the project.

 With this in mind, Mr. Touré informed the Senegalese press agency (APS) that the first three locomotives would leave South Africa in September and arrive in Dakar in early October.

 “The railway has always had an infrastructure branch that carries out maintenance and upkeep work that will allow the track to be used between Tambacounda and Dakar by building a logistical table,” he said.

 Senegal wants to ensure minimum traffic on the old line. 

That is why the authorities have disbursed 20 billion CFA francs for its rehabilitation. 

The objective is to allow trains to run twice a day between Dakar and Tambacounda from December. 

A deadline recently confirmed by Touré.

“We have already rebuilt the Touba Zam-Zam bridge, which was the largest structure to be rehabilitated,” Touré was pleased to report in Le Monde last August. 

This time, the manager maintained that a development of more than six hectares is planned as a first step before building a logistical hub on an area of one hundred hectares to unload the containers that will come from Dakar.

The challenge of reviving the Dakar-Tambacounda rail route is to reduce almost 500 km of road travel and probably accidents. 

Large trucks loaded with containers would travel by rail to Tambacounda, before continuing by road.

Last month, on the road to Kaolack in central Senegal, a Malian truck crashed into a taxi. 

Four people on board died instantly. 

The accident caused an outcry against Malian transporters before similar reactions were heard from across the border in Mali. 

The authorities in both countries quickly set about deffusing the tension.

 Beyond the nostalgia of several railway workers and other traders, the realisation of this project is “also a matter for national cohesion because it is a factor in opening up the country, in regional development and in economic opportunities with the sub-region,” said Kibily Touré. 

Each year, the goods that circulate by truck between Mali and the Autonomous Port of Dakar are estimated at between three and four million tonnes.

In addition to this revival project, CFS is planning to put the Dakar-Tambacounda Fast Track TVG on the rails, equipped with standard technology and two tracks with 22.5 tonnes per axle.

 The Senegalese government has already secured financial pledge from Canada for an amount of 1935 billion CFA francs, or 3 billion euros. 

Work is to start by September 2022.

“The offer of three billion euros was made in seven months. We are in the negotiation phase of waiting to see what contract will bind the two governments. Our deadline is before the end of October for the contract to be signed. But we are waiting for the lawyers to do their work about the contract,” Touré said.


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