Celebrating 50 years of TAZARA railway

Part of the TAZARA Railway

Part of the TAZARA Railway

Celebrating fifty years of cooperation and friendship between China and Tanzania, the Tanzania to Zambia Railway marks landmark symbol of China and Africa relations. Despite its low profile among other world-class railroads today, the Tanzania Zambia Railway is a miracle rail holding a symbol of solidarity between China and Africa in the areas of travel and overland transport.

  The history of this railroad tells of the dream of the former British business magnate and politician, Cecil Rhodes, who dreamed of building a railway line from Cape Town in South Africa to Cairo in Egypt, to cut across the African continent from the southernmost tip to northern tip of this continent known for poor transport network.

  Cecil Rhodes’ dream had come true through an old Edwardian Train snaking from the most tip of Africa in Cape Town in South Africa to Dar es Salaam, almost the centre of Africa.

  Covering 6,100 kilometres, the two-week tourist tailored epic journey from Cape to Dar es Salaam takes place every year through an old, vintage Edwardian Train snaking through the Southern to Eastern parts of Africa in tourist missions.

  Operated by the Pretoria-based Rovos Rail, the vintage tourist train passes through tourist attractive sites in South Africa and Zimbabwe, then Zambia where it connects and rolls its luxury coaches through the Chinese constructed Tanzania and Zambia Railway line.

  This miracle railway commonly known as TAZARA is among the longest and modern railroads in Africa with pure Chinese technology. The 1,067mm gauge railway covers a distance of 1,860 kilometres (1,160 miles) from Tanzania’s capital city of Dar es Salaam on the Indian Ocean coast to Zambia’s Copper belt city of Kapiri-Mposhi.

  TAZARA rail is a man-made wonder worth visiting. It cross and pass through awesome features including the 23 tunnels cutting through the Eastern Arc ranges in southern highlands of Tanzania and the Great Rift Valley rim. The longest tunnel covers 800 meters through rugged mountains.

  These dark tunnels make the rail among most fascinating features any visitor could enjoy while snaking through 920 kilometers from Dar es Salaam to the Zambian border of Nakonde.

  From Dar es Salaam to Kapiri Mposhi, the railway crosses or passes on over 300 bridges with stopovers in 147 stations.

It took 50,000 Chinese rail experts and engineers with other 60,000 Tanzanian and Zambia workers to lay down 330,000 tons of heavy steel rail. The workers moved 89 million cubic meters of earth and rock to complete the rail’s construction including the laying down of 2,225 concrete culverts.

  China provided all building materials, equipment, medical and food supplies direct from Beijing to Dar es Salaam for the railroad workers. Ambulance vans were as well shipped from China to Tanzania for the sick and injured Chinese and African workers who braved the hostile African wilderness and landscapes.

  Twelve Chinese surveyors walked on foot through rugged landscapes and wild places for nine months from Dar es Salaam to Mbeya in Southern Highlands about 900 kilometres to choose and align the railway’s path.

On the course of its construction, 65 Chinese railway experts and engineers died.

  It was 1970 when the first bar of a steel rail was laid down in Dar es Salaam to start the five-year tedious work to lay down the rail. In October 1975, the last bar of steel was laid at Kapiri-Mposhi in Zambia, to complete this hard but noble work of the construction of 1,860.5 kilometres of the railway, two years ahead of its completion.

  Rovos Rail or the “Pride of Africa” luxurious train follow Cecil Rhodes trails from the Cape, passing through Southern Africa to Dar es Salaam and link its passengers to other parts of Africa through other railway networks in Eastern Africa.

  It is an exciting, perhaps the only moment of life to ride through such a train pushed by steam engines and with old, wooden coaches dating back to late 1890s but modified into a five-star hotel with all facilities.

  Rhodes’ dream of a Cape to Cairo railway has today progressed as far north as Dar es Salaam in the heart of Africa. China is currently looking at possible means to connect Africa by rail through its planned Ethiopia to Djibouti railway line with a total length of 753 kilometres.

  With the completion of this railway line in North Africa, there will be a possibility to attract more travellers to travel from Cape Town to Cairo by train. Africa will own the longest railway line in the world. There will be a possibility for tourists to travel from Berlin or Paris to Cape Town after crossing the Mediterranean Sea.

  Through China and Africa economic relations, it is possible to connect the African continent from Cape to Cairo through Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan and Egypt. TAZARA railway remains a landmark symbol in honour the former Tanzanian and Zambian Presidents Julius Nyerere and Kenneth Kaunda and former Chinese leaders Mao Tse Tung. The dream of the Cape to Cairo Railway is not dead. Agencies



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