Rwanda starts work on regional railway project

Rwanda has kick-started plans to construct a railway line that will link the country to Kenya’s Mombasa port through Uganda.
Currently, the Rift Valley Railways is operating and revamping the old Uganda and Kenya railways lines. The New Times / File photo
Currently, the Rift Valley Railways is operating and revamping the old Uganda and Kenya railways lines. The New Times / File photo

Rwanda has kick-started plans to construct a railway line that will link the country to Kenya’s Mombasa port through Uganda.

According to Prof. Silas Lwakabamba, the Minister of Infrastructure, the ministry is currently conducting a feasibility study to determine the cost of the project, the route of the railway line, how those affected will be compensated and the appropriate technology to use to deliver the project on time.

“We have already signed a memorandum of understanding with Uganda and Kenya. We are working more closely with our counterparts in Uganda to ensure the project is completed as scheduled,” he said.

The minister also noted that Rwanda’s contribution would depend on the findings of the ongoing feasibility study.

“We are determined and will contribute whatever it will take to construct the railway line because we understand the economic benefits it will bring to our country,” he said.

Lwakabamba said the line would increase efficiency in the transportation of goods and reduce road damage by cargo trucks.

He added that road repairs have been consuming most of the ministry’s budget. It will also reduce the cost of transporting goods across the region.

“Kenya is scheduled to start construction works in November, therefore, there is no reason for us to delay this important project,” the minister said.”

The modern railway line expected to cost over $5b and will link Rwanda to Kenya’s Mombasa seaport through Uganda.

Work on the mega structure is expected to end by 2018, according to the statement signed recently by presidents Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Paul Kagame Rwanda.

The railway line is billed to greatly improve trade and transport between the three countries.

“The three Heads of State are determined to seeing the success of the railway project.

“Ever since they met in Kampala, so much has been happening to develop the railway line,” officials said.

Commenting on the project, Mark Priestley, the TradeMark East Africa country director, said the railway line will boost Rwanda’s economy.

“The need to make Rwanda less landlocked and more land-linked is paramount and, one way to realise this, is through the railway line,” he said.

This will ultimately reduce the cost of doing business and enhance domestic and foreign investments in Rwanda, he added.

Gerald Mukubu, the Private Sector Federation chief advocacy officer, said the railway line is a timely intervention.

“As the private sector in a landlocked country, this is great news for us.

“We hope works go according to plan,” he said.

Currently, the northern corridor (Mombasa-Kampala-Kigali and the central corridor, Dar es Salaam) are the bloodline of Rwanda’s trade despite of being the most expensive corridors in the world.

The northern corridor covers over 1,900km, while the central corridor is 1,700km long.

The presidents agreed that each country develops the railway line within the confines of their borders. It is one of the multiple projects being promoted by the three presidents.

After the Kampala meeting in July, Uganda was given the responsibility to lead the railway line development, Rwanda was tasked with the responsibility of fast tracking the single customs territory, single tourist visa and use of East African Community national identity card projects while Kenya is to spearhead the implementation of the oil pipeline and electricity generation.

 

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