Rail dream comes true for Chinese worker
Ma Jiangcheng, 59, had a dream to fulfill before his retirement: to work on a railway in a foreign country.
His whole life has been closely tied to railways. His parents once worked for a railway company, and his wife retired from one. He himself has worked with railways for more than 30 years. Nowhe’s a rail cargo expert.
He has traveled to most parts of China in his work. But he never had the opportunity to work on railways in a foreign country.
That changed in 2015 with plans for a China-made standard-gauge railway from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to neighboring Djibouti, capital of the Republic of Djibouti in theHorn of Africa.
Arriving in Ethiopia last year, Ma stepped into a senior staff role for cargo transport with his company, China Railway No 2 Engineering Group.
Adrought caused by El Nino had scorched the country, and 10.1 million people desperately needed food.
The Ethiopian government asked the railway company if it would help transport grain as relief supplies from the United Nations began to pour into the port of Djibouti. Part of the line was still under construction, though the section to Adama was complete.
The company assigned Ma to oversee the movement of relief supplies.
“I coordinated departments within the company and in Ethiopia, asking them to go all-out,” he said.
Soon, all sectors of the company were mobilized. Normal movement of materials for the railway project became second priority, and the company transferred the first train of 1,500 tons of grain from Djibouti port to Adama in two days.
Overland truck transportation took three days, compared with only 10 hours to Adama by rail.
The grain shipments continued to be a priority. When it’s loaded at Djibouti port, it is moved to Ethiopia immediately. To date, 60 such trains with a total weight of 88,000 tons of grain have been transported to help ward off starvation.
All this provides Ma with a sense of satisfaction: “I feel relieved when the grains are well dispatched,” he said.