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China Offers U.S.$6 Billion to Tanzania for Rail Construction

China last week said it is ready to provide $6.8 billion for the construction of Tanzania’s Standard Gauge railway along the Central Corridor.

This follows talks held between China’s Ambassador to Tanzania Dr. Lu Youqing and President John Magufuli in which the government has also set aside $454,545 out of its $13.2 billion in the forthcoming 2016/17 financial year.

A statement issued by the State House reveals that construction of the 2,561 railway is expected to boost the performance of the port of Dar es Salaam and the national economy in general.

Ambassador Lu also handed over to President Magufuli a letter with message from Chinese President Xi Jinping.

During their talks, Dr. Magufuli stressed that his optimism that this project will revolutionize the economy of Tanzania and other Eastern and Central African countries including Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

"That is why we don’t want to waste time in prolonged talks, we want the works to start and people to start benefitting," Dr Magufuli said.

In his comments, Dr. Lu applauded President Magufuli and his government for preparations ranging from finances to equipment and human resources in implementing the gigantic project and that the Chinese government, its financial institutions and other companies will accord their total support towards the implementation of the project.

"As Tanzania’s Minister for Communication, Science and Technology Prof. Makame Mbarawa held talks with the Chinese government, Chinese financial institutions and companies, I promise we will work as per laid down procedures and standards of construction. We will work with consciousness of time, quality and cost effectiveness," Ambassador Lu said.

The whole project will be implemented in phases with the first phase to be implemented jointly between Tanzania and China; the project will involve construction of 1,216 km from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza via Isaka and Tabora.

President Magufuli has already deployed the Works, Transport and Communication Minister, Prof. Mbarawa to China to complete discussions on the implementation of various projects, including the central line at standard gauge.

Prof. Mbarawa has said that the next move would be announcement of transparent and competitive tenders for the project to get competent companies for the job.

Last year, the then Minister for Transport Samuel Sitta described the project as single biggest project ever to be implemented by the government of Tanzania since the country attained independence in 1961.

According to Sitta, the project was initially supposed to be financed by commercial loans from a consortium of banks under a 20-year repayment; however, he did not name the banks.

It is said that oil discoveries in Kenya and Uganda and gas stumbled on in Tanzania have turned East Africa into an exploration hot-spot for international oil firms but the transport infrastructure in the region had suffered from decades of underinvestment.

By Robert Muriisa.

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