Tanzania awards $1.9 bln railway contract to Turkish firm

DAR ES SALAAM, Sept 29 (Reuters) – Tanzania has awarded a $1.92 billion contract to a Turkish firm to construct a 422-km (262-mile) high-speed electric railway line, part of plans to overhaul ageing transport infrastructure.

The firm, Yapi Merkezi Insaat VE Sanayi As, will design and construct the railway line, the second infrastructure project won by the company in Tanzania this year.

“After assessment of the bids, Yapi Merkezi met the technical and financial requirements,” Tanzanian state-run railway firm Reli Assets Holding Company Ltd (RAHCO) said in a statement on Friday.

Fifteen contractors submitted bids for the project.

The new standard gauge railway will replace the existing narrow gauge line built over a century ago.

The line, from Morogoro to Makutupora, both in central Tanzania, will have the capacity to transport 17 million tonnes of cargo each year, RAHCO said.

In February, Tanzania signed a deal worth $1.215 billion with a consortium of the Turkish firm and Portugal´s Mota-Engil Engenharia e Construção África, S.A. to build another 300-km railway line.

RAHCO said it would award three additional tenders over the coming months for the construction of close to 700 km of railway.

Government officials said Chinese companies were vying with Turkish firms to be awarded tenders for construction of other sections of the railway line.

Tanzania wants to profit from its long coastline and upgrade its rickety railways and roads to serve the growing economies in east and central Africa.

In total, it wants to spend $14.2 billion over the next five years to build a 2,561 km standard gauge railway network connecting its main Indian Ocean port of Dar es Salaam to its hinterland.

The port´s vast hinterland loops in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda. (Reporting by Fumbuka Ng’wanakilala; Editing by Elias Biryabarema and Mark Potter)

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