Two Chinese companies will implement the fifth phase of Tanzania’s standard-gauge railway (SGR) project at a cost of $1.3-billion.
The companies, China Civil Engineering Construction and China Railway Construction Company, earlier this month signed the contract for the 341-km-long line, which runs from Mwanza to the Isaka dry port.
Tanzania’s President John Magufuli and visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi witnessed the signing, with government stating that 18 companies had expressed interest in the project.
“In China, we have a saying: if you want to get quick development, you must build roads and other transport infrastructure, and that is what China does. I’m optimistic President Magufuli’s efforts to invest in infrastructure will be fruitful,” said Wang.
The Mwanza–Isaka line is part of the 2 561 km electrified SGR project that Tanzania is building at a cost of $7.6-billion.
The entire project is designed to create seamless connectivity from the capital, Dar es Salaam, to other parts of the country and also to neighbouring countries, including Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
China, through its Export-Import Bank, is the main financier of the project, which is expected to be completed in the next five years.
Tanzania is banking on the SGR project and other huge infrastructure projects, particularly in energy and ports, to drive faster economic growth, in line with its 2025 development vision, in terms of which the country aims to achieve middle-income status.
Last year, the World Bank upgraded Tanzania from low- to lower-middle-income status, a move that was attributed to the country’s impressive real gross domestic product growth of an average of 6% over the past decade.
The first phase of the SGR project, which covers 300 km and extends from Dar es Salaam to Morogoro, and is being implemented by Turkish firm Yapi merkezi in partnership with Portuguese firm Mota-Engil Africa, is almost complete.
Once the entire project has been completed, replacing the current archaic 1-m-gauge railway network, passenger trains will be able to travel at speeds of up to 160 km/h, with the top speed for freight trains being 120 km/h.