Feature: Chinese martyrs honored for contributions to TAZARA railway construction in Tanzania-Xinhua

Feature: Chinese martyrs honored for contributions to TAZARA railway construction in Tanzania

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-04-05 22:39:15

DAR ES SALAAM, April 5 (Xinhua) -- Half a century ago, during a pivotal period of economic development for Tanzania and Zambia, tens of thousands of Chinese people arrived in the nations to assist in the construction of the TAZARA railway. This project, often regarded as China's significant contribution to the African continent, stands as a symbol of collaboration and support between nations striving for progress.

During the construction of the railway, nearly 70 Chinese people, including engineers, technicians and workers, lost their lives. Their names were inscribed on their tombs at a cemetery in Tanzania's port city of Dar es Salaam, standing not only as a historical testimony to China-Africa friendship but also as an enduring monument to the strong and lasting relations between China and Africa.

On Thursday, the Qingming Festival, a traditional Chinese festival during which people pay tribute to the dead and worship their ancestors, staff from the Chinese embassy in Tanzania, representatives of Chinese communities and Tanzanian government officials gathered at the cemetery to honor the Chinese martyrs, acknowledging their significant contributions to the construction of the railway and their role in promoting the economic and social development of Tanzania and Zambia.

The TAZARA railway, also known as the "Uhuru Railway" or "Independent Railway," spans 1,860 km from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to New Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia. Construction commenced in October 1970 and was completed by July 1976.

Serving as a major transportation artery spanning East Africa and Central-Southern Africa, it stands as China's largest foreign aid project to date. Throughout its six-year construction period, China dispatched over 50,000 personnel to engage in every phase, from surveying and design to construction and operation.

"At its peak, the workforce for the TAZARA railway construction comprised 38,000 Tanzanian and Zambian employees, alongside 15,000 Chinese technical and engineering personnel," said Zhang Junle, Tanzania's managing director for China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation.

Zhang emphasized the need to preserve and uphold the spirit of the Tanzanian railway, advocating for ongoing efforts to integrate its ethos into all aspects of enterprise development, thereby creating value and driving action.

"They are heroes who have forged a monument of China-Tanzania and China-Africa friendship. Chinese and African people will always remember their names, as they will remember the TAZARA railway," said Chen Mingjian, the Chinese ambassador to Tanzania, who paid tribute to the Chinese martyrs.

Chen said half a century ago, the elder generation of Chinese, Tanzanian and Zambian leaders made the historic decision together to build the TAZARA railway.

"Despite facing its own challenges, China helped build the railway, demonstrating concrete actions to support African countries in their just cause of national liberation and strong desire for economic development," said the Chinese envoy.

The railway alleviated landlocked Zambia's economic reliance on southern African ports. "Today, we witness a new dimension where the TAZARA railway can connect the entire southern African region to Dar es Salaam port in eastern Africa," he said.

Tanzania's Minister for Transport Makame Mbarawa also paid tribute to the Chinese martyrs at the cemetery. "The people of Tanzania will never forget their contribution to the economic development of this region," he said.