Feature

A tale behind structures housing Lot 5 SGR stations

Each of all major stations along the Standard Gauge Railway from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza, Tanzania, tells an interesting story

MONDAY August 7, 2023

Bismark Rock on Lake Victoria is one of tourists’ attractions in Mwanza dubbed Rock City in Tanzania. PHOTO | DREAM AFRICA

By Deus Bugaywa

The Tranquility News Correspondent, Tanzania

Just as jerseys of Young Africans, the oldest football club in Tanzania, tell stories of the club, so are Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) stations, silently but loudly, telling interesting stories.

Each of all major stations along the Standard Gauge Railway from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza offers depiction of a famous feature, economic activity or history of each particular area where the station is located. To begin with, I detail the meaning behind stations on Lot 5 line that extends from Mwanza to Isaka.

Mwanza Station

The concept design of Mwanza Standard Gauge Railway Station depicts rocks, Savannah trees and dhows. With the capacity of 961 pax peak-hour passengers, the building area covers 13,045 square metres, with an operation area of 2,212 square metres and a business area covering 3,789, 216 square metres.

The rocks surrounding the city have made the Tanzania’s second largest city synonymous to them. Mwanza City is alternatively known as ‘Rock City’, owing to gigantic stones scattered all over the city.

The formation of the rocks in the city involves round granite boulders placed on top of other large rocks lying circumjacent on all sides of the city for centuries, offering beautiful views of both the city and the Lake Victoria.

A savannah is dominated by grasses and some shrubs. Most savanna grass is coarse and grows in patches with interspersed areas of bare ground. PHOTO | ISTOCK

Savannah trees

Portraying Savannah trees meets with approval, given Mwanza is the closet city to the magnificent Serengeti National Park, which is situated about 136 kilometres away and takes a 2:30-hour drive to reach the Ndabaka Western Gate.

Savannah trees tend to grow in abundance in Tanzania, and are famous for being the primary source of food for giraffes.

They do not only offer food for giraffes and other herbivorous mammals found in Tanzania, but they also provide the land with stability, making them a vital part of the country’s ecosystems.

Known alternatively as an umbrella thorn, Savannah trees can communicate to each other. Trees harbour plant intelligence, and Savannah is nicknamed the Einstein of the forests.

When giraffes and other animals approach a savannah crown, that particular tree will release tannins that are toxic. As the poison increases within a tree, a chemical called ethylene is released, a sort of chemical defense system that can travel up to 45 metres, warning other nearby savannah trees of imminent feeders.

Lake Victoria is the world’s second largest freshwater body on which over 25,000 million people rely for their livelihoods. PHOTO | ISTOCK

Dhow

This indicates fisheries activities in Lake Victoria. Being the largest cold-water lake in Africa, it houses important economic activities at three levels, namely household, private sector and government levels.

The importance ranges from providing nutritious food to subsistence fishermen and population in general to generating income among retail fish businesses; capturing considerable resource rents among fish traders, processors and exporters and creating both direct and indirect employment opportunities for a significant number of people.

Malampaka Station

With the capacity of 502 pax peak-hour passengers, a building covering 5,528 square metres and an operation area of 577 square metres offering a business area of 2,103 square metres, Malampaka is the biggest station in Simiyu Region.

For obvious reasons, Malampaka Station represents cotton crop, as Simiyu Region produces at least 61 percent of all Tanzania’s cotton, and when it comes to organic cotton production, Simiyu is the first in Africa and the fifth globally.

Organic cotton is currently in high demand across the world, giving the region a huge potential for investing in textile and fibre processing plants. During the 2021/22 season, the region produced 82,000 tonnes of cotton.

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An architect’s view of Malampaka Standard Gauge Railway Station. PHOTO | COURTESY

Shinyanga Station

Being the home of the largest diamond mine in Tanzania, Shinyanga Station delineates the minerals. With the capacity of 284 pax peak-hour passengers, its building area covers 5,534 square metres with an operation area of 529 square metres, offering a business area of 1,889 square metres.

The Williamson Mine is Tanzania’s sole important diamond producer. The open pit mine is based upon 146-hectare Mwadui kimberlite pipe, one of the world’s largest economic kimberlites.

Despite having been in operation since 1940, the pit is only 120 metres at its deepest point due to the large size of the deposit. The low grade of the deposit is countered by the high value of its diamonds and lends itself well to high volume, bulk mining methods.

Williamson is renowned for its beautifully rounded white goods and ‘bubblegum’ pink diamonds, including the 23 carat Williamson Pink (54 carat rough stone) considered to be one of the finest pink diamonds ever recovered, not to mention the exceptionally rare Williamson Pink Star, an 11.15 carat internally flawless Fancy Vivid Pink polished diamond that fetched $57.7 million at an auction in October 2022 – the second most valuable jewel or gemstone ever auctioned.

Following the closure of the Argyle mine in Australia, the world’s primary source of pink diamonds in late 2020s, Williamson is considered to be one of the few remaining sources of pink diamonds.

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An architect considered minerals, particularly diamond, when designing the Shinyanga Standard Gauge Railway Station. PHOTO | COURTESY

In 2019, Mwadui Mine achieved the highest level of production in over 40 years when 399,615 carats were produced.

The current Williamson Mine’s plan is to reach 2030, but owing to Mwadui kimberlite hosting a major resource of 37.7 million carats, there is a potential for substantially extending its license.

Isaka Station

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Isaka Standard Gauge Railway Station is meant for connecting Tanzania and the landlocked country of Rwanda. PHOTO | COURTESY

Its geographic position makes Isaka a trade enabler for the Great Lakes Region. With the dry port complimenting it, the station is positioned to serve the landlocked countries of Burundi and Rwanda, as Isaka is on a highway, running 610 kilometres from the Rwandan Capital, Kigali.

The concept behind Isaka Station’s building is the connectivity of the two countries of Rwanda and Tanzania. The station has the capacity of 476 pax peak-hour passengers, with the building covering 5,073 square metres, an operation area of 2,046 square metres with a business area of 216 square metresΩ

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