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12 Fuchs’s vision of a dynamic peasant economy in the southern railway corridor never materialized, in part due to the outbreak of the Maji Maji War in the southern part of the colony between 1905 and 1907. An equally important reason for the abandonment of the southern corridor strategy was the intervening development of the central railway line. 13 Thus rather than starting from a southern coastal port—for example, Kilwa or Lindi—this new southern line would begin from a station in the interior, passing through the Kilombero valley and terminating at Manda Bay.
There were iron ore and coal deposits in the Ruhuhu-Songea area that could be tapped by the proposed railway, and the Usangu floodplain showed significant potential for agricultural and livestock development. Sugar production was especially important in the Kilombero valley, where mechanized rice production and ranching were also proposed. In the surrounding southern highlands maize farming and forest plantations were seen as productive options for Iringa, Njombe, and Mbeya. There were similar possibilities for rural development on the Zambian side, although the northeastern region had lower agricultural potential.
Yet even after this exhaustive engineering survey and report, the southern railway project still languished. A small portion of the surveyed railway was finally taken up—and constructed—to link the Kilombero Sugar Company to the central railway line at Kidatu in 1962–64, just prior to independence. The remainder of the line, however, was not built in the colonial period—it awaited support from China. Railway Visions 21 The Independence Period: A Freedom Railway Following independence, the same southern railway plans that had represented a grand “Imperial Link” in the colonial period were revived, this time as a post-colonial railway of liberation.