DAR ES SALAAM   -  Tanzanian Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Palamagamba Kabudi, on Friday 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.