The $US 1.2bn contract is part of the 1216km stretch that will eventually link Dar es Salaam with the rest of the country as well as Rwanda and Burundi.

The government had already set aside $US 500m for the project according to works, transport and communications minister Mr Makame Mbawara, and he also said the government expects to secure soft loans from development partners and financial investors for the project. In July 2016, the Chinese Export-Import (Exim) Bank agreed to provide $US 7.6bn to Tanzania to build around 2200km of standard gauge railway.

The Turkish and Portuguese firms beat 39 other bidders to win the tender according to Tanzania’s infrastructure manager Railway Assets Holding Company (Rahco) acting director-general Mr Masanja Kadogosa.

Kadgosa also said that the 160km/h standard gauge railway will be able to handle 17 million tonnes per annum, running parallel to the existing central line.

Tenders for the rest of the project will be opened in April this year, comprising the Morogoro - Makutupora (336km), Makutupora - Tabora (294km), Tabora - Isaka (133km), and Isaka - Mwanza (248km) sections.

For the latest project updates from around the globe, subscribe to IRJ Pro.