DAR ES SALAAM, April 5 (Xinhua) -- The government of Tanzania on Thursday pledged its enduring support to its friendship and partnership with China.
The east African nation's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Augustine Mahiga, said construction of the Tanzania-Zambia Railway (TAZARA) in the early 1970s formed a solid foundation of friendship and cooperation between Tanzania and China, and indeed the entire region of southern Africa.
He was speaking at the commemoration event to salute the tragic loss of Chinese workers and technicians who died during the construction of the 1,860-kilometer railway line connecting Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and New Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia.
"The loss of their precious lives forms a solid foundation of friendship and cooperation between Tanzania and China, and indeed the entire region of southern Africa," said the minister.
Mahiga said it was also proper to recall the efforts and bravery of the founders of this great Uhuru railway line-Tanzania's founding President Julius Nyerere, Zambia's founding President Kenneth Kaunda and the late Chairman Mao Zedong of China.
"TAZARA is an act of south-south cooperation in political, economic and strategic security spheres," said Tanzania's top diplomat, adding that the most notable act in the construction of TAZARA was not only the Chinese funding but also the labor and technical assistance that China extended to the two countries.
"China helped us despite of its economic base being frail at that time. As we pay tribute to our heroes let us emulate their courage and let their story guide our hearts and minds towards constantly modernizing and revitalizing TAZARA," he said.
Mahiga added: "Let's ensure that the construction which they did reminds us of an indelible mark, a mark that cannot be taken away in the history between Tanzania and China."
Wang Ke, the Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania, said 70 Chinese workers and technicians lost their lives during the construction of TAZARA and laid to rest on African soil far away from their home.
"We are proud to see that TAZARA has been serving as an historical testimony to China-Tanzania friendship and an enduring monument to China-Africa relationship," said Wang.
TAZARA was constructed as a turnkey project between 1970 and 1975 through an interest-free loan from China, with commercial operations starting in July 1976, covering 1,860 kilometres from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to New Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia.