The remains of 18 Chinese contractors who died and buried in Mpika district, Muchinga Province, during the construction of the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) in the 1970s have been exhumed.
Mpika central constituency, Member of Parliament, Silvia Chalikosa has disclosed that the remains will be reburied at the newly constructed Chongwe Memorial Park in Lusaka, where all Chinese nationals who die in Zambia will be buried.
Ms Chalikosa however, stated that the Mpika memorial site has a rich history which dates back to the 1970s during the period when the Chinese nationals constructed the TAZARA Railway line.
“We are quite saddened that the monuments that we have treasured of the workers that were part of TAZARA Railway Network and later died are being taken to Chongwe, but we have been assured that the site remains as such despite the remains being exhumed,” said Ms. Chalikosa.
During the exhumation, China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) Project Manager, Sun Mingyong, said the remains will be reburied at Chongwe Memorial Park to fulfil the wishes of their families back in China.
He said that the process was being done in honour of the Chinese nationals, who devoted their lives to the construction of TAZARA and other China headed projects during that time.
“It is just for them to have a final resting place that can easily be accessed by their families. It has been difficult for the families of the departed comrades to see their graves in Mpika, but with the newly constructed Chongwe Memorial Park, it will be accessible,” said Mr Mingyong.
He further said that the Chinese government will ensure that the old gravesite is restored and once the royal establishment is done with the required process, the contractors will rebuild the tombstones so that it stays as a sacred place.
Meanwhile, Chief Chikwanda of the Bemba speaking people said the late Chinese nationals who were buried at the site since the 1970s, died mostly of malaria, snake bites and other natural causes.
“These are heroes who came to construct TAZARA Railway line unfortunately they died here,” said Chief Chikwanda