Kivu Belt road opens new frontiers for W. Province

Western Province citizens have started enjoying the benefits that come with the new road and are maximising their business activities as movement of goods and services now takes shorter time.
A section of the completed Kivu Belt road. Eugene Kwibuka.
A section of the completed Kivu Belt road. Eugene Kwibuka.

Western Province citizens have started enjoying the benefits that come with the new road and are maximising their business activities as movement of goods and services now takes shorter time. For instance, Joseph Mporendame, a nurse working at Kivumu Health Centre in Rutsiro District, said he will be using one hour to visit his family in Mushubati Sector once the construction is complete instead of the current four hours he endures on marrum road.

There is a sense of anticipation among many in Western Province for the completion of Kivu Belt road works inches closer.

The road will not only connect the province to the rest of the country but also to neighbouring countries.

Kivu Belt asphalt road project links five districts in the province – Rusizi, Nyamasheke, Karongi, Rutsiro and Rubavu – and connects Rwanda to neighbouring countries of DR Congo and Burundi.

The same road also links the province to Tanzania and Uganda through an existing national road network.

More than half (124 kilometres) of the 206-kilometre road has been completed, connecting Karongi and Rusizi districts via Nyamasheke, while the remaining part is under construction and will link Karongi to Rubavu.

The Coordinator of Single Projects Implementation Unit under the Rwanda Transport Development Agency (RTDA), Olivier Kabera, told The New Times that construction of the remaining part will be completed in the next nine months.

The Government has planned to spend more than Rwf185 billion on the entire Kivu Belt road, with funds from major international financing institutions that include the African Development Bank, the China Exim Bank, and Arab financiers such as the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), Saudi Fund for Development, Kuwait Fund for Development, and The OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID).

Residents happy

Western Province citizens have started enjoying the benefits that come with the new road and are maximising their business activities as movement of goods and services now takes shorter time.

Joseph Mporendame, a 50-year-old nurse working at Kivumu Health Centre in Rutsiro District, said he will be using one hour to visit his family in Mushubati Sector of the same district once the construction is complete instead of the current four hours he endures on the bad marrum road.

“We are happy about this road. Everyone is happy for it because it will drive development here in our region,” Mporendame said late last month while commuting from his work to see his family.

Mporendame said once the new road is fully in service, Rutsiro residents will easily get commodities from DR Congo and many parts of Rwanda and will also be able to ferry their own produce to both domestic and foreign markets.

Rutsiro, just like many other parts of the Western Province, is among the country’s main producers of fruits such as pineapples, tree tomatoes, and bananas but it also produces a lot of coffee and tea which are grown on its highlands.

“We are going to develop really fast thanks to this road,” Mporendame said with excitement.

The Government embarked on construction of the Kivu Belt asphalt road in 2010 to ease local transport and boost regional trade between Rwanda and neighbouring countries.

The road will also facilitate tourism in the country’s western region, which boasts of multiple touristic destinations such as Lake Kivu and Nyungwe National Park.

Residents in Rusizi, Nyamasheke, and Karongi where the road is already complete and in use are already praising the Government for having provided them with a genuine boost for their economic activities.

They no longer need to commit two days in order to travel to Kigali and Rubavu as it used to be in the past using the western region’s former marram road that was painful to ride on.

“The good thing with this road is that you can now travel and get back home the same day and you don’t have to spend nights on the trip to Kigali or Karongi. It’s good for business because you even don’t have to waste money in lodges while making the trips,” said Peruth Mukangwije, a businesswoman who often commutes between Rusizi and Kigali using the new Kivu Belt road.

The 124 kilometres (completed section of the road) has cost more than Rwf125 billion, Kabera said, and the remaining part is a beehive of activity as engineers work to complete their task by end December 2017 as planned.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

 

 

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