• Short Summary

    China has formally handed over to Tanzania and Zambia the 1,100-mile (1,860 kms) railway linking the two African countries.

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    China has formally handed over to Tanzania and Zambia the 1,100-mile (1,860 kms) railway linking the two African countries. The railway -China's biggest overseas air undertaking - is the fruit of six years work. It cost China the equivalent of 250-million pounds sterling.

    SYNOPSIS: The handing-over ceremony, which took place at Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia, was attended by Chinese Vice-Premier Sun Chien, President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, President Mobutu Sese Seko oi Zairo and Sir Seretse Khama of Botswana.

    Zanbia spared no expenses in putting on a good show for the visiting dignitaries. The entertainment was provided by Zambia's National Dance Troupe who were joined by their counterpart from Zaire.

    The presence in one spot of the Heads of State of Zambia, Tanzania, Botswana and Zaire gave rise to speculation that they might use the opportunity to hold a summit meeting on central and southern African affairs. But instead, the Presidents devoted their time to the ceremony which officially gave ownership and management of the railway to Tanzania and Zambia.

    China began building the railway in 1970 and the first trains began operating between Dar es Salaam, the Tanzanian terminal, and Kapiri Mposhi, the Zambian end of the line, last October. The Chinese made the offer to construct the line when Zambia as seeking ways of avoiding sending its exports through Rhodesia whose white minority government it vigorously opposes. China's offer was accepted after approaches had been made to western countries, including Britain and the United States, to build the railway. The West declined after the World Bank and the United Nations declared the project "uneconomic".

    At its peak, the line's labour force consisted of 15,000 Chinese and 36,000 Africans. The railway is already hauling Zambian copper to Dar es Salaam. It is expected to play a further crucial role in the import and export trade of crisis-ridden Zambia which is experiencing a serious economic recession.

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    Reuters - Including Visnews
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