Deep in the heart of Africa, in the year 1970, one of the most daring infrastructure projects began – the Tanzania-Zambia Railway, or Tazara for short. The conception of this project was only possible due to China’s financial support. The railway was constructed to remove red clouds of dust that hung over the pits of the copper mines in Zambia’s Copperbelt, and in turn, provided the inland with its own transport route to the coast of East Africa. This was a liberation from the dependence of apartheid-ruled countries of East Africa.
During the conception of the project, the World Bank and other international investors were afraid of the risk and refused a loan. They insisted that the route was too difficult and that a railway can never be economically viable. Despite their objections, the project worth the equivalent of $500 million was completed in just six years by Chinese and African workers.
The railway route stretches for about 1860 kilometers from the port city of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania through a wild and barely developed area to Kapiri Mposhi in northern Zambia. More than 40 years ago, the railway builders from Tanzania, Zambia, and China cut a path through dense forests with nothing but machetes on hand. They defied mountains with 22 tunnels and built 320 bridges to cross deep valleys and rivers in this secluded area.
The workers were completely on their own as they braved the solitude of the wilderness. Every day was a constant battle of life and death, not just from the railway construction work, but also from threats posed by wild animals. According to official figures, 160 workers lost their lives in construction work. Even today, the route leads through nature parks with wild animals from Africa, which can also be seen from the train if you are in luck.
Our world is full of amazing pieces of history, and this project is no exception. Explore the incredible true story of the Tazara railway in the documentary film that covers the journey of the men who created this magnificent feat of engineering. Watch the documentary and marvel at the intensity of what it took to build this railway, and how it changed the transportation industry in Africa forever.