Tanzanian Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Palamagamba Kabudi has described China as Tanzania's all weather friend.
"Be it during hard times and during glorious times, China has steadfastly remained Tanzania's friend," said Kabudi at a commemoration event to salute the tragic loss of Chinese workers and technicians who died during the construction of the 1,860 km Tanzania-Zambia railway (TAZARA) line. The railway connects Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and New Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia. He said the construction of TAZARA, which is also known as the Uhuru Railway, was a very difficult undertaking.
"It was constructed at the time when western countries and the World Bank rebuffed the ideas, claiming that the project was economically not viable," said Tanzania's top diplomat. Kabudi said during that testing time, China accepted a joint request made by former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere and former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda to fund and construct the railway line.
"At completion 89 million cubic meters of earth and rocks had been moved, 320 bridges, 22 tunnels and 225 culverts built. Indeed, the extent of heroism displayed by the Chinese engineers and workers is unmatched," he told his audience at the Chinese Experts Cemetery on the outskirts of the commercial capital Dar es Salaam.
He urged people to emulate the courage of the Chinese heroes. "As we pay tribute to them, let their story guide our hearts and minds towards constantly modernizing and expanding TAZARA." The minister called for the need to ensure that the construction they did with their blood will forever bloom in order to bequeath a bountiful future for generations to come.
He said there was a bigger role for TAZARA to play in future, not only in social economic development, but also in terms of the relationship among the countries of Tanzania, Zambia and China, as well as in the relationship between Africa and China as a whole. Wang Ke, the Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania, said during the construction of TAZARA, more than 50 Chinese experts, technicians and workers, died at their posts and were buried in Tanzania.
"Among these martyrs, some sacrificed their lives because of accidents at the construction sites," said Wang, adding that upholding the TAZARA spirit of striving for success despite of great difficulties, China and Africa have managed to push forward their cooperation to bear abundant fruits. She said over the past 40 years, TAZARA has been playing an important role in economic and social development of Tanzania and Zambia, Xinhua reported.
"The TAZARA spirit jointly fostered by the people of the three countries has been shining until today in China-Tanzania and China-Africa cooperative relations," said the Chinese envoy. Wang said since its completion in 1975, TAZARA has transported around 29 million tonnes of goods and some 49 million passengers, adding that the railway line has also become an important transport line connecting countries in East, Central and Southern Africa.