TAZARA TURNS 35
The obligatory birthday celebration took place in Dar es Salaam yesterday for the Tanzania Zambia Railway, build in the early 1970s by China to link Zambia with a safe port in Tanzania while the then apartheid regime in South Africa all but blocked imports and exports to and from Zambia for supporting the ANC and other groups struggling to end the demonic regime.
In the early years the railway provided an outlet for the copper mined in Zambias copperbelt but also allowed all types of cargos and passengers to safely travel between Dar es Salaam and Lusaka.
Over the years however serious rot crept into the operation of the railway and it had to be financially bailed out multiple times. Chinese experts have in the recent past taken a closer look at the requirements to rehabilitate the now 35 year old railway system and make it fully functional again, as it also opens wide stretches of Tanzanias own hinterland up to the coastal areas.
Eastern and Southern Africa are presently in a rush to create new rail, road and air infrastructure to improve communications, the flow of goods and people as the two main trading blocs SADC and COMESA are holding talks to explore options to cooperate more closely or even merge. Functioning mass transport systems are thought to hold the key of creating more trade between African countries but many remain literally cut off from the rest of the world due to lack of rail and roads, such as South Sudan and the Eastern Congo and yet they hold enormous potential for farming, agro processing and mining, all of which however require swift access to markets and ports along the East African seaboard.
Chinese companies are at the forefront in exploring and harvesting such riches and they will be particularly keen to see TAZARA refurbished and modernized so that they can tap into Africas hidden treasures and ship raw materials back home to fuel one of the fastest growing economies on the globe. Watch this space.