Workers of China Railway 20th Bureau Group Corporation perform maintenance work for the Benguela Railway in Lobito, Angola, Aug. 2, 2019. (Photo by Liu Zhi/Xinhua)

LOBITO, Angola (Xinhua) — The Benguela Railway, which was built by the China Railway 20 Bureau Group Corporation (CR20), was officially handed over to Angola in the port city of Lobito on Thursday.

The 1,344-km railway runs through Angola, from west of the Atlantic port city of Lobito, eastward through important cities such as Benguela, Huambo, Kuito and Luena, and reaches the border city of Luao, bordering the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

According to Han Shuchen, General Manager of CR20 Angola International Company, the Benguela Railway, which started construction in January 2006, was one of the most important projects in Angola after the civil war.

The total investment of the railway was about 1.83 billion U.S. dollars. It was contracted by CR20 for design, procurement and construction with Chinese standards.

During the construction, CR20 created more than 25,000 jobs for locals, and trained more than 5,000 technicians, including drivers, line workers, communication and signal technicians, said Han.

“Because of natural disasters, diseases and landmines, more than 20 Chinese employees and two local employees sacrificed their lives in the construction of the project. Their lives were honored for the unbreakable friendship between China and Angola.” he said.

On August 21, 2014, the Benguela Railway was announced to be completed and was delivered to the Angola authorities on July 27, 2017.

Luis Lopes Teixeira, chairman of the Benguela Railway company(CFB-EP), spoke at the handover ceremony that the official handover of the railway marked the beginning of a new era, with more cooperation projects and new investment for Angola.

Teixeira expressed confidence with CR20 in the future cooperation, and hoped that CR20 would have more cooperation and support in railway technology, practical operation, line maintenance and other aspects.

Ottoniel Mauro de Almeida Manuel, Director of the National Railways of Angola, stated that the official handover ceremony meant the transfer of responsibility.

Manuel said all the projects of the Benguela Railway are of good quality, and the test results of the equipment also prove that they meet the international standards of railway operation and traffic.