DAR ES SALAAM, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- The government of Tanzania on Friday awarded a 1.92 billion U.S. dollars contract to a Turkish firm to construct a 336-kilometer standard gauge railway (SGR) line from Morogoro to Makutupora in the east African nation's political capital Dodoma.
State-run Reli Assets Holding Company Ltd (RAHCO) that oversees the construction of the SGR said the Turkish firm Yapi Merkezi Insaat VE Sanayi As was the appointed contractor on the project and will design and construct the high-speed electric railway line.
Yapi Merkezi, a privately-owned Turkish contracting company, specializes in rail engineering, design, manufacture and construction.
"Fifteen contractors bought bid documents, but after careful assessment of the bids, Yapi Merkezi met both the technical and financial requirements," RAHCO said in a statement.
"The new railway line will have a capacity of transporting 17 million tonnes of cargo each year, with a 35 tonne axle load capacity. It will be used by electric trains moving at a speed of 160 kilometers per hour," added the statement.
Founded in 1965 and headquartered in Istanbul, Yapi Merkezi has also recently won similar big rail construction deals in Ethiopia.
The Tanzanian government wants the new standard gauge railway to replace the existing narrow gauge railway line built some 112 years ago.
In February this year, the same Yapi Merkezi company was awarded by the government a deal worth 1.22 billion dollars in joint venture with a Portuguese company to build a 300-kilometer SGR line from the port of Dar es Salaam to Morogoro.
The government did not immediately say how it would pay for the cost of building the Morogoro-Makutupora line, but it previously announced that it was constructing the railway section from Dar es Salaam to Morogoro using its own funds.
Speaking at a signing ceremony for the Morogoro-Makutopora rail deal, RAHCO's acting managing director, Masanja Kadogosa, said the line would be built within 36 months.
"The project will involve construction of 336 kilometers of the main railway line, 86km of an interchange rail, eight passenger stations and six cargo stations," he said
Makame Mbarawa, the Minister for Works, Transport and Communication, ordered the Turkish firm to speed up construction work.
"We have asked the contractor to shorten the duration of the construction period as much as possible," he said.
RAHCO said it would also award three additional tenders over the coming months to successful bidders for the construction of close to 700 kilometers of railway.
Tanzania plans to profit from its long coastline and upgrade its rickety railways and roads to serve the growing economies in the land-locked heart of Africa.
In total, the government expects to spend 14.2 billion U.S. dollars over the next five years to build a 2,561 kilometers standard gauge railway network connecting the country's main Indian Ocean port of Dar es Salaam to eastern and southern Africa's hinterland.
The Dar es Salaam port is a key regional transport hub for the landlocked nations of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Zambia, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda.