China to undertake railroad modernisation project in Tanzania

China is set to undertake its second major railway construction project in Tanzania as soon as the tender for upgrading the country’s central railroad is floated, according to official sources in Dar es Salaam.

Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli recently told Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania, Dr Lu Youqing, that his government was committed to see the proposed reconstruction of the railway linking the port of Dar es Salaam to neighbouring countries of the Great Lakes region take off soon.

The ambassador assured President Magufuli of China’s preparedness to enter into a partnership with Tanzania for implementation of the 2,561 km project. Tanzanian government has already set aside US$4.5 million in the 2016/17 budget for the initial phase of the project.

“We hope that this project will revolutionise our economy and other Eastern and Central African countries including Burundi, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. That’s why we don’t want to waste time in lengthy negotiations. We want the works to start and the people to start benefiting from the project,” the president emphasized.

In 1975 China completed construction of the 1,860 km Tanzania-Zambia Railway (TAZARA) that runs from Dar es Salaam port to Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia at the cost of US$500 million. It was then rated as the largest single foreign-aid project undertaken by Beijing.

The construction of TAZARA started in 1970 and at the time of its completion, two years ahead of schedule, it was the single longest railway in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Central Line built from 1905 and completed in 1914 when it reached Kigoma port on Lake Tanganyika, was the largest technical inheritance of the German colonial age in Tanzania. The British mandate later added a 379 km branch of the line from Tabora to the Lake Victoria port of Mwanza. “I promise we’ll work as per laid down procedures and standards of construction. We’ll work with consciousness of time, quality and cost effectiveness,” said Ambassador Lu.

The project, estimated to cost US$6.8 billion, will be implemented in phases. The first phase will cover 1,216-km from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza.