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Chinese Builders Recall Hardships In Constructing Tanzania-Zambia Railway

posted 27 Mar 2013, 06:41 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 27 Mar 2013, 06:42 ]

TAZARA/Hardship -- Chinese builders recall hardships in constructing Tanzania-Zambia Railway

 China Central Television (CCTV)  - The hardships encountered in the course of building the Tanzania-Zambia Railway (TAZARA), the largest single aid project even undertaken by China, are still fresh in the memory of its builders.

TAZARA links the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam with the Zambian town of Kapiri Mposhi, covering 1,860.5 kilometers.

China helped building the railway at the request of the governments of Tanzania and Zambia. The construction project started on October 26, 1970. China sent a total of 56,000 people to undertake the project. There were up to 16,000 Chinese working on the construction site during the busiest period.

Although the Chinese personnel had thought they were ready, the hardships were far beyond their imagination.

Parasites and infectious diseases were prevalent in Africa. According to the Chinese builders, the bite of a local gadfly was fatal. Moreover, there were many other pests which sucked blood from human bodies.

"I remember there was a kind of parasite. It dived into human skin and breed rapidly. You could see a bump rising on the skin and felt itchy. You had to break it with a needle," said Lu Datong, Chinese chief engineer of the TAZARA construction project.

"Parasitic flies lived inside human bodies. Many of my colleagues suffered from the parasites, including myself," said Sun Huazhe, a Chinese technician of the TAZARA construction project.

"We had to wear Khaki coats and trousers. We wore boots all the time even when we were resting to prevent mosquito bites. Yet I suffered from a disease nevertheless. My big toe became red and swollen. The doctor used a needle to break the blister and there was a maggot inside," said He Hui, an interpreter of the TAZARA project.

Meanwhile, Chinese builders had to surmount many technical difficulties. The terrains were rather complex. Moreover, the machines and equipment required were not locally available. Sometimes, the Chinese builders had to bring machines and tools from China.

The construction was eventually completed in July 1976 thanks to the joint efforts of Chinese and local workers. The railway has been considered as a road of freedom and a symbol of friendship between China and Africa.

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