East Africa: Dar-Kigali-Bujumbura Railway to Be Ready by 2014
:banana:Kigali — The Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi railway, which starts this year is expected to be completed in 2014, according to experts.
Construction experts said last week in Kigali that construction costs might drop by 30%.
The Dar es Salaam-Isaka railway line will also be modernised to 1,435mm standard gauge railway.
The new development comes after earlier studies had indicated that the project would cost US$3.5 billion.
Rwanda's infrastructure minister Eng. Linda Bihire last week said costs have dropped to $2.450 billion. Rwanda is coordinating the project.
The new figure was revealed at a donor round-table on the railway project held March 16-17, 2009. She said World Bank, financers, miners and other stakeholders found the project viable. The meeting was organized by the governments of Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.
The three governments plan to construct a modern high-speed train, with a minimum speed limit of 120 kilometres per hour.
This means that imports will be delivered in Kigali within a day, eight hours to be precise, contrary to the six days they have been taking from Dar es Salaam.
The development will see most importers and exporters shift from Mombasa port to Dar es Salaam port.
If introduced, this is going to be the fastest train in the East African region with capacity to haul several tonnes of cargo using 2,000 wagons.
With the small gauge rail of 1,000mm in width, the average speed for a train on the Kenya-Uganda Railways can cruise is 40 kilometres per hour while that of the old Tanzania Railways is 20 km per hour.
Pushing for the extension of railway line from the coast to Kigali comes at a time Rwandan importers who mainly depend on road transport are complaining that up to 40 percent of their capital is spent on transport.
The costs have been further pushed up by the strict enforcement of the three-axle load limit, many roadblocks and the bad roads in the region.
Records show that whereas a Rwandan importer spends between 40 and 50 percent of the value of the export on transport and insurance, the average for the world's developed countries is 8.6 percent and 17.2 per cent for the least developed countries.
Bihire assured transporters that when completed; transport costs will drastically decline to less than 20 percent.
When completed, Bihire said, about 4.5 million tonnes of minerals from Burundi and Tanzania will be hauled by the railway.
Experts who carried out the feasibility of the railway project are optimistic that the line will spur development and exploitation of untapped natural resources in Burundi and the Congo which will provide the critical level of tonnage to support the railway.
Bihire said the project will also see the Dar es Salaam ports modernised and the number of berths increased to ease congestion.
Martime records show that the number of containers transiting Tanzania is expected to increase by as much as 1,200 % or about 3 million foot equivalent units (FEUs) in the next 20 years. Last year Dar es Salaam Port handled 350,000 containers over the planned 250,000 containers.
East African Business Week