Reporters on the Job

Riding Africa's Rails : Staff writer Abraham McLaughlin, based in Johannesburg, South Africa, admits he's a sucker for a good train ride. In 2004, he took an overnight journey into the lush hills of northern Cameroon on the way to Chad to interview Darfur refugees. "My cabin- mate was a tax collector who spent most of the trip talking to his beer bottle. A strange trip," he notes wryly.

At the other extreme was a recent five-star journey around South Africa on a train run by Rovos Rail. It provides white-glove service in Victorian-era coaches.

So, when Abe learned - during his reporting about three East African countries forming a common trading area - that a train ran through it, he jumped on the opportunity, literally. His only regret was that his Uganda train ride was his shortest in Africa - 10 minutes. But he was impressed by the crew's intense efforts to change a faulty braking system and get the train moving. "If that same effort is applied to integrating the three countries, East Africa will be rolling in no time," says Abe.

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David Clark Scott
World editor

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