EIGHT Chinese experts are in the country studying problems the Tanzania Zambia Railway (Tazara) is facing. The Minister for Transport, Dr Harrison Mwakymbe, said in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday a total of 120 experts are expected to conduct that study, whose outcome in June next year will indicate the way forward for Tazara also known as Uhuru Railway.
Tazara was a turnkey project financed and executed by the People's Republic of China. Construction of the 1,860-km railway began in 1970 and was completed in 1975, two years ahead of schedule. It links the port of Dar es Salaam and Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia.
Construction costs were about US $500 million, making it the largest single foreign-aid project undertaken by China at the time."Half of the experts will be based in Zambia and the rest in Tanzania. The two governments will act on recommendations that will come from the study in June next year," Dr Mwakyembe noted.
Dr Mwakyembe was accompanied by the Minister of Supervision of the Republic of China, Ms Ma Wen, who visited Tazara and later a cemetery of 68 Chinese at Majohe in Gongolamboto, who died while building the railway in the 1970s. Tanzania and Zambia lost 92 people.
China is committed in helping restore Tazara to its former glory by carrying out massive rehabilitation.The high quality material used in building Tazara impressed China's Supervision Minister.
"I am happy to see that the material used to build Tazara was of high quality, because the structures are still in good quality," she explained.
Ms Wen said a good friend is the one that will bail you out during hard times, noting that China and Tanzania have been good friends and must be there for each other.
She said the Uhuru Railway which has been operational for over 36 years contributed to the development of many people living along the railway line.
She noted that once restored to its former glory, the Uhuru Railway will play an important role in the lives of people of Tanzania and Zambia in terms of development.
"Economy of the two countries will improve, through transportation of goods and people, I have very strong confidence in this," she said.She noted that it was so quiet at the Dar es Salaam Tazara Station and passenger lounge, noting that next time when she visits, it should be active.
Dr Mwakyembe said the Chinese government availed the assistance in the 1970s at a time when its own economy was not good and despite misgivings from the western world.He said the railway line has 320 bridges some of them breath taking, 22 tunnels through hills and 2,225 concrete culverts that are still in good condition.