(Bloomberg) -- Sudan secured Chinese backing to begin a $640 million restoration of its railway network, pressing ahead with the ambitious project despite an economic crisis worsened by last year’s coup.

Authorities this week took receipt of freight-train carriages from China’s CRRC Ziyang Co. worth 50 million euros ($51.6 million), with Sudan paying 30% of that amount upfront, Transport Minister Hisham Abu-Zaid told reporters Wednesday. 

The new equipment will allow Sudan to transport 350,000 tons of cargo per month by rail, up from 80,000 tons, the minister said. He didn’t give details on the next steps in the initiative or say if more Chinese assistance was coming.

The North African nation, where dictator Omar al-Bashir was ousted in 2019, announced plans July last year to revamp a more than 2,000-kilometer (1,242 miles) rail network that had been shattered by decades of sanctions and mismanagement. The African Development Bank, China State Construction Engineering Corp. and unspecified Gulf firms had all been said to show interest in assisting.

The initiative was thrown into doubt by a military coup in October that ousted civilian members of a fragile power-sharing government and derailed the country’s democratic transition. The US, World Bank and others froze billions of dollars of aid in the aftermath, exacerbating a funding crisis.

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