THE TAZARA Railway was built between 1970 and 1975 to give landlocked Zambia a link to the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam, as an alternative to export routes via rail lines to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), South Africa, and Mozambique.
Western countries refused to help both Tanzania and Zambia build the railway, claiming it would not be profitable and it would take 30 years to built. The railroad was a turnkey project financed and executed by the People’s Republic of China.
On 1 July 1965 the Chinese Government made a firm offer of tied aid to the Governments of Tanzania and Zambia, worth £75 million and £150 million to enable them to build the railway line. On September 6, 1967, an agreement was signed in Beijing by the three nations. China committed itself to building a railroad between Tanzania and Zambia, supplying an interest-free loan to be repaid over 30 years.
Over 160 workers, including 64 Chinese experts died during the construction of the Tazara. The gauge is 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) to match Zambia Railways. Zambia Railways are connected to Zimbabwe, and South Africa, so that TAZARA is a point of access to the railroad systems of Central and Southern Africa.
Total costs were about US $500 million, making it the largest single item foreign-aid project ever undertaken by China.
President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia is seen here with President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania as they rest their feet on the sleepers of the new Great Uhuru Railway which links their two countries, during the halfway celebrations at Tunduma on the border, on 6th September 1973.
(Contributions by The Daily News (Tanzania), Eugene Makai, Hilal K. Sued)
(Photo : Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)