The governments of Zambia and Burundi have begun talks on the possibility of extending a railway line, the Tanzania-Zambia Railway (TAZARA), in order to enhance trade between the two countries, the Times of Zambia reported on Friday.
The 1,992 km railway line, owned by the governments of Zambia and Tanzania, runs from the Zambian town of Kapiri Mposhi to Port Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and was constructed in the 1970s with the assistance of the Chinese government.
Zambian Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilbur Simuusa said plans were currently underway to extend the railway line to Burundi through the port of Mpulungu, located on the northern part of Zambia.
The Zambian minister said deliberations by the two governments over the project had reached an advanced stage and that a budget would soon be tabled to pave way for a feasibility study and subsequent construction of the railway line.
“The governments of Zambia and Burundi are pursuing this project actively as the lack of a direct trade link has created business gaps between the two countries. The plan is to extend the TAZARA railway line through Mpulungu tot eh port of Bunjumbura so that goods are exported by rail,” he was quoted as saying by the paper.
The project, he said, would be funded on a 50 percent basis by each of the two governments, adding that the railway line would be a catalyst for enhanced trade in products such as cement and sugar.