Chinese firms to build new Zambia, Zim rail line

Zimbabwe has signed an agreement with a consortium of investors to build a new US$2 billion railway line linking it with northern neighbour Zambia, officials said Monday.

Pan African News Agency (PANA) reports that the Zimbabwean government struck the deal with Espol Africa, a consortium of investors in which Chinese companies are dominant.

Officials said the railway line, to originate from northern Zimbabwe, would init ially be built to the border between the two countries, and later to Zambia’s southern Kafue town.

Eric Kwan, the railway line’s project manager, said China’s Export Import Bank h ad agreed to fund the project, which will be on a Build-Operate-Transfer basis.

The Chinese bank itself is a member of the investing consortium, Espol Africa.

”The deal has been signed. All that is left now is the funding for the project. The China Eximbank has already made an undertaking to provide the funding so everything is going according to plan,” Kwan said.

He said construction of the new railway line, which will be the shortest rail link between the two countries, was expected to start in the next 12 months.

”Construction will commence as soon as the bank provides the funds. This could be any time in the near future because the Memorandum of Understanding lasts for an initial period of 12 months, so we should start construction within this period,” he said.

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