Tanzania is unlikely to meet the November deadline for the first phase of the 300km-long $1.9 billion standard gauge railway being built between Dar es Salaam and Morogoro.
Sources from the Tanzania Railways Corporation told The EastAfrican that the current short rains have slowed laying of the tracks on concrete sleepers along the line.
The rains have also paralysed drilling works at a hill where a tunnel needs to pass through as well as building of bridges, which have to be constructed in dry weather.
Jamila Mbarouk of TRC said despite a slowdown in construction, the SGR project is at an advanced stage. She said construction at various sites has reached 70 per cent.
The contractors, Turkish firm Yapi Merkezi, in partnership with Portuguese firm Mota-Engil Africa have completed a stretch of 210 kilometres and are finalising works on the main stations.
She said the first phase has six main stations at Dar es Salaam, Pugu, Soga, Ruvu, Ngerengere and finally Morogoro. The Dar es Salaam and Morogoro stations will be the biggest.
Agness Kijazi, director of the Tanzania Meteorological Agency said excessive rainfall in the Coastal regions of Tanzania would continue to January next year.
The TRC has however officially launched the second phase of the SGR construction between Morogoro and Makutupora, covering 422km at a ceremony held in Morogoro last week and graced by deputy Minister for Works and Transport Elias Kwandikwa.
According to Ms Mbarouk, the construction of this section is 20 per cent complete.
Separate tenders will be floated for the three remaining sections—Makutupora-Tabora (294km), Tabora-Isaka (133km) and Isaka-Mwanza (248km)—in the 2021/2022 fiscal year.
The SGR will cover 1,457kms from Dar es Salaam to the shores of Lake Victoria, and will cost $7.5 billion over the next five years.
The TRC says the procurement of 1,430 cargo wagons, 20 locomotives and other equipment has begun. The line will serve neighbouring countries of Uganda, Zambia, the DR Congo, Rwanda and Burundi.
Kenya was the first East African country to start construction of a modern railway and has completed over 500km.
It inaugurated its passenger services in June 2017 and cargo three months later. Two weeks ago it inaugurated the 120km-long second phase from Nairobi to Naivasha and launched a passenger service.
Tanzania will join Kenya and Ethiopia in running a modern railway service in the greater East Africa.