Petroleum plays a crucial role in the running of any economy. In Zambia, petroleum drives economic sectors such as agriculture, transport, manufacturing and mining sectors.
After the unilateral declaration of Independence (UDI) on 11th November 1965 by Ian Smith, Zambia found itself in a difficult situation as it was no longer possible to obtain its petroleum imports from the Umtali Refinery (Zimbabwe)
The only alternative source for the supply of the much needed petroleum products was from the port of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania.
Since no railway existed between Zambia and Tanzania, Zambia’s refined petroleum products had to be imported using road tankers from Dar es Salaam which was more than 1,700 kilometres away.
As crude oil was critical to Zambia’s economic development, in 1966, a decision was made by Dr. Kenneth Kaunda and his Tanzanian counterpart Julius Nyerere to construct a pipeline covering a distance of 1,710 kilometres, from Dar es Salaam to Ndola. The pipeline was named Tanzania Zambia Mafuta or TAZAMA in short.
The pipeline was commissioned in 1968 and saw the birth of TAZAMA pipelines Limited.
TAZAMA, the company owned by the Governments of Zambia 67% and Tanzania 33% was to operate the pipeline from Dar es Salaam to Ndola on a twenty four hour basis.
This year 2018, TAZAMA celebrates fifty years of pumping crude oil from Dar es Salaam to Ndola.
The success can be attributed to the dedicated workforce and timely maintenance of the pipeline and its auxiliary equipment. The good bilateral relations between Zambia and Tanzania have also been a catalyst in the success of the Pipeline Company.
Fifty years later, the business of pumping crude oil is on-going and TAZAMA has, against all odds, remained buoyant in managing and pumping crude oil from Dar es Salaam to Ndola.
As TAZAMA Pipelines Limited celebrates its golden jubilee, it can be said without doubt that TAZAMA is a success story of friendship between Tanzania and Zambia and of hard work of the peoples of the two nations.
It is a success story of cooperation between neighbouring countries and presents a model of how bilateral relations can climax into positive development.