Chinese Ambassador says TAZARA will surely shine again

“TAZARA is a historical testimony to China-Africa friendship and an enduring monument to China-Africa relations. In 1965, immediately after winning independence, President Nyerere and President Kaunda, the founding fathers of Tanzania and Zambia, reached significant consensus after thorough discussion, to build a railway to link Zambia with Tanzania through which the Port Dar es Salaam could serve as Zambia’s new access to the sea.

They believed that was the only way to break the colonial blockage, consolidate the fruit of independence and achieve economic development. Due to the shortage of capital and relevant technology, the two national leaders traveled a long way and made repeated requests for financial assistance to many countries and international organizations including UK, USA, West Germany, the World Bank, and so on. Unfortunately, they were refused all the way with different kinds of reason.

Difficulties did not waive the determination of the two countries to build TAZARA, which carried the dream of development of the two governments and peoples.
To have a try with the last glimmer of hope, President Nyerere and President Kaunda decided to seek help from a distant country – China.

At that time, with a GDP per capita of only US$ 100 and total foreign exchange reserve as little as US$ 166 million, China was not rich and was faced with very heavy developmental tasks.

Yet, after knowing about the political and economic significance of the railway for the development of the brother countries in Africa, the late Chinese national leaders including Chairman Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai, decided without hesitation, to help African brothers to build TAZARA.

They made the commitment that China could save money to build TAZARA, the railway for freedom and liberation, even if that meant China had to give up building her own railway and every Chinese had to cut one meal a day.

Upon receiving the affirmative response from the Chinese side, President Nyerere couldn’t help getting excited and said to the Chinese leaders, “I am too excited to breathe.”

Then, the Chinese government sent more than 50,000 engineering and technical personnel and shipped more than 1 million tons of material and equipment to Tanzania and Zambia.

The people of China, Tanzania and Zambia joined their hands, stood against hash living and working conditions and finally accomplished building the Railway.

More 300 TAZARA builders from the three countries lost their lives during the construction period, making TAZARA the Friendship Railway cemented with lives and blood.

After completion, TAZARA effectively supported the anti-imperialism and anti-colonialism struggle of the countries in Southern Africa and the economic development of Tanzania and Zambia during which China and Africa have built profound friendship of shared destinies.

Today, the book “A Monument to China-Africa Friendship –Firsthand Account of the Building of the TAZARA” has been published. The book has presented a vivid reproduction of the unforgettable historic feat and hard course of building TAZARA. It has provided us a new chance to cherish the memory of the martyrs, build on past achievements while keeping up with changing circumstances and promote the continuous development of the New Type of Strategic Partnership between China and Africa.

It is also the best tribute to the men and women who have sacrificed for and contributed to the China-Africa friendship.

Today, TAZARA is still playing an important role for the economic cooperation and personnel exchanges of Tanzania and Zambia. Having been built many years ago, the infrastructure and management system of TAZARA cannot meet today’s development demand. Revitalizing TAZARA, therefore, becomes the urgent need and anxious desire of the governments and peoples of Tanzania and Zambia.

The new generation of national leaders of China, Tanzania and Zambia pay utmost attention to the operation of TAZARA. President Xi Jinping has agreed with the Presidents of Tanzania and Zambia to make joint efforts to build TAZARA into the Railway for Development and Prosperity in the new era.

We are happy to know that, with the efforts of the concerned departments of China, Tanzania and Zambia, the “Tripartite Working Conference for Revitalization and Sustained Development of TAZARA” was successfully held early this month (9-12 May 2016).

Government officials, experts and financial institutions from China, Tanzania and Zambia gathered in Dar es Salaam to implement the significant consensus of the three heads of state and pool their wisdom to discuss and propose a way forward for TAZARA.

Looking into the future, I believe that, with the high priority given by the national leaders of China, Tanzania and Zambia, and the common efforts of the three peoples, TAZARA will surely shine the light again and continue playing an important role for the social and economic development of Tanzania and Zambia, and writing new chapters for the China-Africa friendship. Thank you!”

His Excellency Lu Youqing, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China in the United Republic of Tanzania, at the LAUNCHING of a book “A MONUMENT TO CHINA-AFRICA FRIENDSHIP-FIRST HAND ACCOUNT OF THE BUILDING OF TAZARA”.

– See more at:…/remark-by-h-e-lu-youqing-am…/…

TAZARA construction worker who died after being fiercely stung by African bees remembered in Dar

THE Minister-Counsellor at the Chinese Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Mr Gou Haodong, placed a wreath of flowers at the grave of the first Chinese expert, Zang Mincai, who died in the course of building the Tanzania Zambia Railway (TAZARA) more than 40 years ago.
The experts’ death did not, however emanate from a construction accident but by being stung by the fierce African bees.
The ceremony, led by the Managing Director of the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) East Africa Limited, Mr Yigao Jiang, was part of the Chinese tradition of remembering their dead, a day marked on either April 4 or 5 each year, depending on the lunar calendar, which the Chinese follow.
CCECC is the state company that built the railway. The event was also attended by many Chinese who live in Tanzania. Mr Haodong also led a long queue to lay white roses on other tombs.
“This is a very important day for us in China and people usually travel very long distances to go back home or any other places to comb the tombs of their dear ones,” explained Mr Haodong after he had performed the ceremony. His wife, Sun Lihua, wiped tears from her cheeks. The occasion was preceded by playing the national anthems of both Tanzania and China.
The story of Mincai’s fate touched many people in China including Premier Zhou Enlai who dispatched a top doctor, Professor Wu Jieping, to try and save his life but the venom of the bees just proved fatal.
Mincai’s death and that of the others, symbolize to this day the sacrifice and high price that China, Tanzania and Zambia made and paid to build the railway as an assertion of freedom.
Tazara is also known as the “Great Uhuru Railway.” Uhuru is Kiswahili for freedom. Altogether, over 160 workers, including 64 Chinese experts died during the construction of the Tazara.
The graves of the Chinese experts, including that of a young man who was only 22 years old when he died, are at Gongo la Mboto on the outskirts of the city.
Also buried there is Ma Shuangquen from the home town of President Xi Ping.
He was only 55 years old when he died.
The 1,860 km (1,160 mi) Tazara was built from 1970 to 1975 at a cost of 500 million US dollars then to enable landlocked Zambia cut dependence for its imports and exports on the racist regimes of Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe and South Africa.
It was at the time China’s biggest foreign aid venture and was both a technical and engineering milestone as the track runs through one of the most difficult terrains on earth.
Western countries refused to help both Tanzania and Zambia build the railway, claiming it would not be profitable.
By contrast, Chairman Mao Ze Dong promised both Father of the Nation, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and Zambia President, Dr Kenneth Kaunda that China would help the two brotherly nations of Africa to build the railway even if that meant putting on hold some of its own domestic development projects.
Currently, the railway needs rehabilitation and tripartite talks are ongoing to revitalize its operations and keep it as the icon of friendship between Tanzania, Zambia and China, which rejected the views of doomsayers to build what remains as Africa’s longest railway that technically makes it possible today to travel by railway from Cape Town to Nairobi, Kenya, making a reality of what Cecil Rhodes had merely dreamed about.
SOURCE: The Daily News (Tanzania)

A great way to travel from Tanzania to Zambia (See video)

Here’s a video voluntarily produced by Tom, Will, Jack & Harvey (The Vlogateers) on the TAZARA Journey between Tanzania and Zambia:

Final Verdict: TAZARA is an authentic, legitimate African Journey.

Video uploaded to YouTube on Dec 20, 2015
“A great way to get from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to Lusaka in Zambia (or vice-versa) is by train on the Tazara Railway. LEGIT has put together a short video to help anyone thinking of travelling with the train to make their decision. If you are one of those people, then we really recommend you do, it’s a fantastic, unique experience and an amazing way to see Tanzania and Zambia! We hope you enjoy the video and more importantly, have a great journey on the train!”

The 40-year old railway with a regional dimension

The 40-year old railway with a regional dimension

By Conrad Simuchile
In 1967, with Zambia desperately in need of alternative rail and road routes to reach the seaports, an Agreement for the construction of the Tanzania-Zambia Railway was concluded in China between the three Governments of China, Tanzania and Zambia.

The construction of the track and other infrastructure begun in earnest in October 1970 and concluded five years later, well ahead of the project schedule. The rest is history.

Now edging towards 40 years of operations, having been officially commissioned on 14th July 1976, TAZARA is still relatively newer compared to many railways in Africa that were built for the expedience of colonialist agendas way back in the 1800s and early 1900s.

The Uhuru railway
But while it is true that the railway line was initially built with a view to addressing Zambia’s challenges of access to the seaports after the closure of alternative routes in the southern part of Africa, few can argue that the line was born with a Pan-African DNA make-up.

TAZARA stands poised to serve as an infrastructural backbone for the regions of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the East African Community (EAC), where it has already proved to be of utility value, easing logistics and communication between and amongst the peoples of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Democratic Republic of Congo and even Burundi and Rwanda in the Great Lakes Region.

It is widely acknowledged that the railway was one of the major facilitating factors for self-determination during the fight for independence in the Southern African sub-region, much to the dismay of colonial protagonists such as one Ian Douglas Smith (former Prime Minister of Northern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe) and other imperialist agents that tried to forcefully cling to power in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola, Namibia and apartheid South Africa.

The railway played an important role in the eventual liberation of the whole of Southern Africa. It is recorded that freedom fighters, with bases in Tanzania and Zambia, frequently used TAZARA as a means for transportation of military weapons, food and other materials that aided in the struggle for liberation.

TAZARA is known as the Uhuru Railway in some circles, precisely because the line provided full logistical support and contributed significantly to the liberation of the named Southern African countries.

A catalyst for growth
When other routes proved unusable due to hostility from the colonialists that dominated the surrounding areas in Southern Africa, TAZARA was at hand to render invaluable support in many ways than history books may have recorded.

Today, using the TAZARA infrastructure, the renowned and acclaimed tourist trains, Rovos and Shongololo, regularly traverse the entire Southern Africa into East Africa, from South Africa to Dar es Salaam, dropping off and picking up tourists to and from various interesting tourism spots in the region.

On the local scene, the establishment of TAZARA has been a catalyst for growth and expansion of small settlements along the line, which have now become big districts and towns.

Some cases in point are Mlimba, Makambako and Ifakara in Tanzania and Chozi, Mpika and Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia. These are places that have developed tremendously in the last 40 years and continue to grow through TAZARA’s services and accompanying spin-offs, to the benefit of the two countries.

TAZARA has been an important resource for the development of thriving entrepreneurships along the stretch of the line from the East African seaport of Dar es Salaam to New Kapiri-Mposhi in Zambia.

Today TAZARA connects local communities and provides farmers with the physical, social, and economic mobility they need to contend with rural Africa’s unpredictable economic conditions. It is the only means of transport and vehicle for poverty alleviation to most of the people living along the line – bringing the people in these areas into the mainstream economies of the two countries.

In short, the importance of TAZARA to the economic and social development of Tanzania and Zambia cannot be overemphasized.
Prior to the construction of TAZARA there were very few known joint activities between the people of Zambia and Tanzania and those of East Africa at large.

However, after TAZARA, Zambians and Tanzanians have come to know and understand each other and are living and working together, as business and social partners, in a true Pan-African spirit that would have made Haile Selassie, Ahmed Sekou Toure, Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba and Mwalimu Julius Nyerere very proud.

An established tool for integration
The people of the two nationalities are managing TAZARA together and in certain cases many have even intermarried and created unbreakable bonds between the two peoples.
In the last 39 years, TAZARA has transported over 50 million passengers. The railway has also moved 28 million tonnes of freight and over 100 million parcels between and within the two countries and in the region.

The Authority has also, over the years, provided stable employment to the citizens of Tanzania and Zambia, with over one million people having passed through the employment system of TAZARA to date.

TAZARA provides a platform for political and socio-economic relationships amongst the three countries; China, Tanzania and Zambia, which relationships brought about the existence of the railway line in the first place. Regular meetings are held at political and economic levels as the three countries find solutions to support TAZARA.

From the pre-construction period to date, the trilateral relations amongst the three republics have been growing deeper by the day and TAZARA has remained at the centre of the co-operation amongst the three nations.

There is no doubt that this can be escalated further and replicated at the regional level.

Indeed, from a regional perspective, TAZARA offers a critical and major logistical solution for not only decongesting the roads and the ports, enhancing the development agenda in the region, but also taking the Pan-African spirit to higher levels by enhancing co-operation amongst the SADC, COMESA and EAC member countries.

The author is the Head of Public Relations for TAZARA. The article was first published in the September-October 2015 issue of the Insurance Times

TAZARA requires re-capitalization – Sauko

I have noted the China cooperation with Africa through the famous UHURU (Freedom) railway (TAZARA) which has gained and continues to gain strength every year since construction in the early seventies (1970s).

Countries that benefit from TAZARA, including the sub-regions such as SADC/COMESA/East African Community e.t.c have and shall continue to improve their economies through effective use of TAZARA.

On the other hand, TAZARA’s performance has dwindled in the last ten years and continues to decline due to aged rolling stock, low motive power, poor state of permanent way and non-availability of reliable communication systems. All in all, TAZARA requires colossal sums of funds for re-capitalisation and working capital for it to avoid possible total collapse. The re-capitalisation/working capital sums cannot be made good by the shareholding governments alone, despite the strong support from the Government of China through the last 15 Protocols.

This is the right time to invite the Private Sector participation in the rehabilitation and running of TAZARA. The decision to do this must be immediate in order to save TAZARA from facing deathbed. I will always fight to see TAZARA operating as a single Unit and the presence of the Government of China in TAZARA must be encouraged and upheld.
God bless Tanzania, Zambia, China TAZARA and Africa in general.

Sauko Saidi
Ex-Deputy Managing Director of TAZARA.

TAZARA cooperation a model for robust China-Africa ties

By Zekarias Woldemariam, July 27, 2015

The Tazara cooperation spirit should be upheld as a model for a further win-win cooperation between China and Africa, said Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi. Wang was speaking yesterday at the Blue Hall of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the inauguration of a book and video to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Tazara railway line that connected the Tanzanian port city of Dar Es Salaam with the landlocked neighboring country Zambia.
The 1,860-kilometer Tanzania-Zambia Railway, Tazara for short, is a monumental railway line in the relationship between China and Africa not only because it is the first Chinese grand project in Africa but also because of the political process the leaders passed through to bring it into being.
During the occasion, Zambian Ambassador to China Ms. Gertrude Kasuba Mwape quoted the then president of her country Kenneth Kaunda, who recounted the long process of recourse for Western countries for the collaboration in the construction of a railway line which proved to be a failure. Kaunda recalled that it didn’t take too long to obtain an agreement after making the request to China. The then Chinese leader Chairman Mao Zedong reacted to the request with the utmost pleasure.
Wang said though China itself had to contend with poverty at that time it responded with a sense of real friendship and selfless internationalism. Out of the budget allocated for the project there was no loan or profit involved. The workers also worked strenuously with Tanzanian and Zambian citizens with a sense of collaboration. In total, 160 of them lost their lives, of which 60 were Chinese.
Criticisms aimed at debilitating the construction process were also a formidable challenge. Unlike the rumors the Western powers were spreading, the project proved to be a foundation for strong China-Africa relationships rather than a means of controlling the countries, according to Wang.
The railway line helped facilitate trade ties between Tanzania and Zambia. Tanzanian Ambassador to China Abdurahman A Shimbo further underscored that the railway line has also contributed a lot to the current freedom struggles of some southern African states.
Undeniably, just like any other infrastructure elsewhere in the world, the Tazara has after years of service faced criticism related to follow up and maintenance.
In spite of this, the impact of this railway is far more than just a connection between two of the 54 plus African countries. It is rather a covenant of friendship that connected people’s hearts and bound them together for a more robust and meaningful relationship.
China has built bilateral relations with 50 African countries. Its overall relations with African countries involve cooperation in the fields of trade, investment, culture and sport among others.
Earlier this year the government of China disclosed that its relations with Africa in the upcoming years will focus on three major areas: industrialization, health and security. Infrastructure is a baseline for all these areas of cooperation. The smooth friendship that China has built up since launching of Tazara is still working well to this end. Several Chinese companies are working tirelessly in the development of infrastructure in various African countries.
Africa is pursuing industrialization and modernization. China will support Africa’s endeavor towards industrialization and modernization, said Wang. He further stressed that China has strong capabilities in infrastructure and industrial manufacturing capacity cooperation, which are still vital areas of cooperation with Africa.
The construction of a railway line is one of the areas, and the companies are also engaged in hydro electric power plants, highways, telecommunications projects and ports making the names of Chinese companies synonymous with such mega projects.
Ensuring peace and security is also China’s major area of priority for cooperation with Africa. Out of all of the members of the United Nations Security Council, China is the largest contributor of peacekeeping forces in Africa.
Wang also recalled that China was the first country to provided support during the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. He added that China will further identify new ways of further intensifying China Africa win- win cooperation with the Tazara spirit of tenacity.

China gets land for memorial site

GOVERNMENT has allocated land to the Chinese embassy in Lusaka for the construction of a memorial site for Chinese nationals who died during the construction of the TAZARA. According to a report in the Zambia Daily Mail, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Harry Kalaba told the Chinese Ambassador to Zambia Yang Youming that Zambia will forever remain grateful to his country for the support rendered during the construction of the railway line. Hon Kalaba said this in Lusaka on Monday 22 June 2015 when he handed over title deeds for the land where the memorial site will be built. Hon Kalaba described China as an all-weather friend.

Discourse – TAZARA to roar again

By Austin Kaluba –
Last year former TAZARA Managing Director Akashambatwa Mbikusita Lewanika proposed that Zambia and Tanzania should conduct an internal research in the development of TARAZA railways if it is to bounce back to its once viable status in the region.

Mr Lewanika, a competent technocrat and intellectual also said TAZARA needed organisational development in order to reduce and eventually stop the myriad of problems it is facing.

True to Mr Lewanika’s observation, TAZARA needs total overhaul, something that can only be achieved with massive political will that birthed the regional line.

Critics have realised how honesty and political will led Kenneth Kaunda and his counterpart the late Julius Nyerere to come together and construct the railway line in what has been hailed as one of the region’s most ambitious economic projects.

After a lukewarm concern to revamp the railway line, , there is hope considering that the newly-elected Zambian President Edgar Lungu and his Tanzanian counterpart Jakaya Kikwete have committed their countries to revamping operations of the railway line to improve trade between the two countries.

The political will that birthed TAZARA started fading with the removal of Kaunda from power and the death of Nyerere, two bosom friends who had been critical in the construction of the railway line with massive help from China.

Now with the commitment from the two leaders, there is hope that the railway line that links Zambia to the coast would benefit the two countries economically and socially.

Contrary to the erroneous conclusion that the demise of the railway line was a result of poor management, we feel the problems had more to do with lack of political will.

The poor performance of TAZARA has had grave consequences on Zambia which has seen the country lose out in the transportation of copper.

As things stand, there is hope that copper would once more be transported using the railway system instead of roads.
Mine companies like KCM will resume relationships with TAZARA which were cancelled because of the railway line’s inefficiency.

Another aspect Zambia should consider in the rekindled relationship of the two countries would be the revival of the Mpika locomotive workshop which is now a wretched site despite being of huge economic benefit.

During its operational days, the workshop was a cash cow that generated a lot of income that cushioned the financial problems of the company.

The workshop made school desks, mini tractors and mill balls for the mines besides being used as a quarry to crush stones for road construction.

Though some critics have singled out professional management as the sole reason for poor performance of the railway line, the major problem lay in lack of political will.

Fortunately there is hope that the railway line would once more roar and benefit the two countries in economic advancement.

The Presidents’ six-point plan on TAZARA


Regarding the management of TAZARA, the Heads of State directed that the recruitment of the Managing Director and Deputy Managing Director should be done on the basis of competence, qualifications and experience, through an open and competitive recruitment process and that this should be concluded within a period of two months. They further directed that TAZARA should be restructured in order to put in place an optimal structure.


With respect to investment and recapitalization, it was noted that TAZARA had for a long time suffered from lack of investment and recapitalization. The two Heads of State re-affirmed their commitment to meeting their respective governments’ financial obligations to TAZARA.

Asset base and balance sheet

On TAZARA’s balance sheet, it was noted that the TAZARA Asset base and balance sheet had deteriorated over the years and were not attractive to private investment. The two Heads of State, therefore, resolved that the two shareholders will continue to work on the balance sheet in order to make TAZARA attractive to private investors.

Open access

Noting that the poor performance was also partly due to under-utilisation of railway infrastructure and monopolisation of the railways services by TAZARA, the Heads of State directed that other operators such as Zambia Railways Limited, SNCC of Congo DR, Tanzania Railways Limited and any other railway operator be allowed to run both passenger and freight services all the way through to and from the Port of Dar es Salaam and that TAZARA should equally be allowed to operate wherever infrastructure existed in any part of Zambia or Tanzania as decided by the 61st TAZARA Council of Ministers meeting held in Dar es Salaam in December 2014.


The Heads of State directed that the review of the TAZARA Act of 1995 should be expedited in order to put in place a legislative framework to open the Authority to private sector participation, re-organise the governance structure, de-beauracratise operations of the company, change the corporate image of the company and prepare the company for full commercial and business operations. This should be done within six months.

Political interference

The Two Heads of State also noted that TAZARA’s operations were also affected by political interference. It was, therefore, agreed that the two share holders consider outsourcing independent management to run the company on a commercial basis.

Second-largest railway built by China overseas rolls out

A 1,344-kilometer railway built by China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) for Angola was completed and open to traffic on Saturday, the company told Xinhua.

The railway linking coastal city Lobito in the west and Luau bordering Angola is the second longest railway built by a Chinese company for Africa, after the Tanzania-Zambia railway.

The Tanzania-Zambia railway was built in the 1970s.

Stretching 1,860 km from Dar es Salaam to Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia, the railway was formally handed over to the Tanzanian and Zambian governments in 1976.

The Chinese government provided a total of $500 million in interest-free loans for the construction of the railway and technical and equipment support since its operation.

The Lobito-Angola railway, built since 2004, will be linked with the Angola-Zambian railway and the Tanzania-Zambia railway in the future, according to the company.

China is willing to help Africa to realize its dream of building up a high-speed railway network, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during his visit to Kenya in January.

China Road and Bridge Corp is building a Mombasa-Nairobi railway that eventually will be extended to five other countries at a total cost of $13.8 billion.

Wang Mengshu, a tunnel and railway expert at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said China has rich expertise and experience in designing, building and operating a high-speed rail network, so the nation should be an ideal option for any foreign countries that want to build their own high-speed rail lines.