Traffic to normalise on Gatuna-Kigali road next week

Part of the road that was destroyed . Courtesy.

Works to repair the ruined part of the Kigali-Gatuna highway started yesterday and the road will resume full operations by Monday, according to officials from the Ministry of Infrastructure.

This follows the ruinous rains that led to a curve-in of the heavily-used road which occurred at about 77 kilometres from Kigali towards the Gatuna Border Post.

Following the incident, police diverted freight transporters from Uganda to the alternative Kagitumba and Cyanika highways, pending the completion of the repairs for the road to resume normal operation.

The road is mainly used by trucks from the port of Mombasa in Kenya through Uganda.

Addressing a news conference Tuesday, both Infrastructure Minister Claver Gatete and the State Minister for Transport, Jean de Dieu Uwihanganye, called for caution for users of the road as the repairs continue.

The road remains open to commuter buses and other vehicles.

During the news conference, both ministers ruled out, at least at the moment, any foul play on the part of the contractor – German company Strabag – over the damage on the road which stretches about 500 metres.

According to Uwihanganye, the section of the road sagged due to abnormal rains that have ceaselessly hit the country since January.

He said: “You can’t determine, now, the liability of the contractor. Indeed, when you are designing for road construction you look at all rainfall data but now, consider the fact that the abnormal rainfall we’ve had in the past few months is something that has not happened in the past 36 years.”

The road is one of the newest highways in the country, having been completed in March 2015.

“Definitely we are going to carry out more technical assessments on all roads in the country but the fact is that the heavy rainfall we’ve had in the past few months is not normal. It has rained constantly for five months and the soils took in so much water.”

Uwihanganye said it was decided that only light vehicles continue using the unaffected lane – as a precaution to prevent a possibility of deterioration – while heavy vehicles use alternative roads through the Cyanika and Kagitumba border crossings to Uganda.

Gatete also weighed in, and noted that “climate change is no longer a slogan’ considering what is happening now.

The road was constructed by German firm, STRABAG International, and funded by the European Union, which also supervised and monitored construction works.

The highway, probably the country’s busiest by traffic volumes, which links the country to the port of Mombasa, Kenya through Uganda, stretches 87.4 kilometres, from Kigali to Gatuna border post.

It mainly serves as the main transport corridor between Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Burundi.

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