The government of Tanzania is planning to make a series of investments to upgrade the rail network and infrastructure of its central corridor. The electrified Standard Gauge Railway is intended to create an international route connecting Tanzania’s eastern port of Dar es Salaam, via the Tanzanian interior, with two western branches that split at Isaka. One branch will run to Lake Victoria, thereby offering shipping connections to Uganda and Kenya, and the other will run west to Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This government-led project thus aims to connect landlocked countries to world markets through the port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

The Tanzania Railways Corporation (TRC) is currently developing the first two phases of the railway project, involving about 540 km of railway line between Dar es Salaam and Makutupora via Dodoma, the country’s capital. The Lot 1 alignment crosses the Dar es Salaam, Pwani and Morogoro regions and passes through 7 districts and 42 villages. The Lot 2 alignment crosses Morogoro, Dodoma and Singida regions and passes through 7 districts and 52 villages.

TRC intends to deliver the project in adherence to the International Finance Corporation’s Environmental and Social Performance Standards. In 2019, the main contractor, Yapi Merkezi, commissioned RSK Tanzania to provide technical support to the project’s resettlement and livelihood restoration implementation as well as seconding four environmental and social specialists, including a biodiversity expert. The project is ongoing.

The scope of our team’s work included supporting the day-to-day tasks associated with implementing the environmental and social action plan. We helped to implement and monitor the project’s biodiversity action plan (BAP) throughout the due diligence process. Our staff trained project personnel and aided capacity building among TRC’s environmental and social programme staff, particularly regarding complying with the International Finance Corporation’s Environmental and Social Performance Standards. Additionally, we formulated a livelihood impact assessment and contributed to monthly and quarterly reporting.

Khatira Morrison, Yapi Merkezi’s Environmental and Social Manager, praised our work on the project, and specifically our environmental and social support services. “On a megaproject with strict environmental and social management requirements, including regular status reports to lenders, RSK has been a vital resource in complying with the requirements, coordinating reporting inputs and providing expertise on a holistic approach to BAP implementation.”