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Angola's war-ravaged railway re-opens after 18 years

LUANDA, Thursday 13 January 2011 (AFP) - A railroad destroyed during Angola's 27-year civil war officially re-opened on Thursday, ending a near two-decade long closure of a 112-year-old line originally built by colonial ruler Portugal.

The 424-kilometre (263-mile) track between Luanda and the eastern city of Malanje was one of three major railway routes wrecked by the conflict and it eventually closed in 1992.

"This one is more modern," joked Julia Conde Oliveira, 49, a passenger who said she had taken the train during the colonial era.

"I am going to visit Malanje and its region as a tourist," she told AFP as the train set off around 5:10 am (0410 GMT).

The route is the first major line to re-open under a four billion-dollar (3.07 billion-euro) rail project carried out by Chinese firms since the end of Angola's 1975-2002 civil war.

Angola, which vies with Nigeria for the title of Africa's top producer of crude oil, has been on a massive infrastructure spending spree in recent years.

China has played a pivotal role in reconstruction, extending generous credit lines conditioned on the hiring of Chinese companies and repaid in oil.

The Luanda to Malanje line, which crosses three provinces, originally opened in 1909, and the resumption of service will bring massive benefits to farmers and other businesses, analysts said.

MySinchew 2011.01.13

 

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