DAR-ES-SALAAM-- The Tanzanian government has started screening more than 30 global firms which have applied for contracts to supply electric trains to ply the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line whose construction has just started.

Reli Asset Holding floated the tender for luxury trains in January, attracting responses from at least 54 companies. However, the Director of Information Services, Dr Hassan Abbasm says government officials are currently screening some 35 companies.

The latest information comes at a time when the government has initiated construction of the line from the national capital, Dodoma, to Morogoro, about 260 kilometres to the east. This line is an extension to an ongoing construction from the port city of Dar es Salaam to Morogoro.

The government says the standard gauge line is planned to link Dar es Salaam with its East African neighbours Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zambiam which are all landlocked countries, except to Kenya.

With Kenya having already built its own SGR line from Mombasa port to the capital, Nairobi, the Tanzanian Government Spokesperson says a team of officials is evaluating the technical and financial aspects before going into discussions.

This is a vital stage before we go on to negotiate terms and conditions, says Dr Abbas. The pre-qualification stage is a preliminary step in a bidding process under which bidders showcase ability and resources to complete the job at hand.

Tanzania is seeking the supply of 14 electric locomotives of 6500 HP and two diesel locomotives of 6500 HP for freight trains and three electric locomotives of 3000 HP and two diesel locomotives of 3000 HP for passenger trains.

Other requirements on its wish list include five sets of Electric Multiple Units (EMU), each with the capacity to accommodate 1,800 passengers, 15 first class coaches and 45 economy class coaches. Other items to be supplied include 600 flat wagons, 200 oil tankers, 50 double stack container wagons, 50 bulk wagons, 70 condola wagons and 70 ballast hoppers (freight wagons).

Yapi MerkezInsaat VeSanayi of Turkey and Mota-Engil, Engenharie and ConstrucAPound o A�frica SA of Portugal won the first phase of the SGR project involving construction of Dar es Salaam-Morogoro line and Morogoro-Dodoma sections of the line respectively.