Tanzania has reached a $2.2bn contract with a Chinese firm for the construction of a final section of a Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), which will connect the country’s main port with its neighbouring countries.

With eventual spurs to Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Uganda, the 2,561km rail line will connect the Indian Ocean port of Dar es Salaam to Mwanza on Lake Victoria, reported AFP.

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Tanzania President amia Suluhu Hassan said that the construction of the final section of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Tabora to Kigoma in western Tanzania is expected to be completed in 2026, nine years after it started.

“Upon completion of the SGR, Tanzania will be in a better position to utilise its strategic geographical positioning to facilitate cross-border trade,” she stated.

The investment of Tanzania in the SGR has now reached $10.04bn, including the current contract, according to Hassan.

Upon full commencement of operations, the new rail line is anticipated to lower cargo transportation costs between the Dar es Salaam port and the DRC from a minimum of $6,000 per tonne to around $4,000.

Hassan further added: “We have to borrow for this important infrastructure and other sustainable development projects because we don’t have enough local resources.”

Tanzania’s railway system consists of two existing networks, of which one will link the East African nation to Zambia and the other to Kenya and Uganda.