Tanzania signed an agreement with a Turkish firm, Yapi Merkezi, early this week to build a $900 million modern railway line as part of the country’s efforts to upgrade transportation links and boost trade with its neighbouring countries.

At the signing ceremony in Dar-Es-Salaam, Masanja Kadogosa, the Director-General of Tanzania Railway Corporation (TRC), said the 165-kilometre line would cost $900.1 million. It will be built within 42 months, including six months of testing, he said.

“Once the new section is completed, it will bring Tanzania’s total investment in the whole modern rail line project to 16.7 trillion shillings ($7.17 billion)” he said.

The 165-kilometre line will connect two towns in northwest Tanzania and is part of a bigger 1,219-kilometer rail project Tanzania has been implementing in phases, to connect the commercial capital Dar-Es-Salaam on the Indian Ocean to Mwanza on Lake Victoria.

The new section is the fourth of five that will comprise the full line. The fifth section, stretching over 341 kilometres, is being developed by two Chinese companies, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation and China Railway Construction Limited, for $1.32 billion.

Meanwhile, the government of President Samia Suluhu Hassan has been pushing to complete big transportation infrastructure projects initiated by her late predecessor, John Magufuli, to boost trade with neighbours Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.