China has quietly been in talks with the governments of Tanzania and Zambia over the possibility for Beijing to take control of the multi-national railway line owned by the two countries.
Reliable reports reaching The Tanzania Times reveal that for the past few years, Beijing has been negotiating with both Lusaka and Dar-es-salaam on China’s prospect to take over the operations of the historical yet underperforming Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA).
TAZARA, as it also happens, was built by the Chinese in the early 1970s.
The railway is connecting the two neighboring countries since when it was constructed over 50 years ago but is reported to be operating significantly below its envisaged capacity
China owns copper mines in Zambia.
Zambia is Africa’s second-largest producer of the strategic metal.
It seems Beijing is looking to ferry and export copper shipments more efficiently via the Tanzania-Zambia (TAZARA) infrastructure through the Dar es Salaam port by operating the railway line itself
Although Tanzania and Zambia hold joint and equal shares in TAZARA, under the governance structure the Managing Director comes from Zambia while the Deputy Managing Director is appointed from Tanzania
Tanzanian Head of State, President Samia Suluhu Hassan recently paid an official visit to Zambia and among other things, held talks with the Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema.
The future of TAZARA was reported to be among the issues high on the agenda at the two leaders’ bilateral talks in Lusaka.
Also on discussion was the Tazama pipeline which extends from the Indian Ocean port of Dar es Salaam to the industrial city of Ndola, Zambia, in the Copperbelt Province, close to the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
But TAZARA seems to be the project which many people in the two countries seem more interested in.
It was being anticipated that the two leaders could make a decision on China’s request for a 20-year concession to operate the Tanzania-Zambia Railways.
The Tanzania-Zambia Railway is also known as the Uhuru Railway or the Tanzam Railway, a brainchild of the founding fathers of both Zambia and Tanzania; Kenneth Kaunda and Julius Nyerere.
It is a famous railway line in the East African Region. TAZARA connects the port of Dar es Salaam along the Indian Ocean shoreline of Tanzania with the town of Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia’s Central Province.
Tanzania-Zambia Railway is a single-track railway serving both cargo and passenger wagons. The railway line stretches to some 1,860 kilometers long.