Chambeshi Railway Bridge

From Chalo Chatu, Zambia online encyclopedia
Aerial photo of Chambeshi Bridge construction in 2022. Courtesy of Jason J Mulikita

Chambeshi Bridge is located on Chabeshi River in Kanchibiya District in Muchinga Province of Zambia. The bridge facilitates rail traffic between Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania and Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia via a passenger train operated by Tanzania-Zambia Railways (TAZARA).


On 11 October 1979 around 19:00, the bridge was bombed by the Southern Rhodesian (now Zimbabwe) army under the command of prime minister Ian Smith. The planted bombs detonated minutes after a south-bound passenger train traveling from Nakonde to Kapiri-Mposhi had passed. The bridge was bombed in an effort to preempt a raid that was allegedly being planned by Southern Rhodesian rebels hosted in Zambia to overthrow the colonial government in Zimbabwe.

The train was driven by Evelyn Mwansa, the first female locomotive driver in Zambia. She claimed to have had prior premonitions that the bridge would be bombed and increased the speed past the bridge on that fateful evening, probably saving hundreds of lives. She was later honoured by Zambia’s President H.E Michael Sata.


The bridge was later reconstructed and relocated from its original spot on the Chambeshi River. The reconstruction was undertaken by Chinese engineers and took about one year to complete the work.

Recent repairs

In March 2020, the bridge was closed to traffic at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. On 24 February 2022 TAZARA announced it had signed a contract with Jianngsu Gold Civil Construction Company Limited for the repair of the bridge at a cost of USD1.6 million.[1]

On 16 September 2022, TAZARA announced the re-opening of the bridge and traffic between Zambia and Tanzania resumed.[2]

Bridge data

  • Length - 240m
  • Width: 4.4m
  • River width at point of bridge crossing - 96m (almost the length of a football pitch)
  • River’s deepest point under the bridge- 3.5m