The Rusumo international bridge that has been under construction since May 2012 was on Wednesday opened to traffic.
The 82-metre bridge over River Akagera connects Tanzania to Rwanda.
The project was supervised by the Ministry of Infrastructure through Rwanda Transport Development Agency (RTDA), while the Tanzania National Roads Service supervised the Tanzanian side.
The modern bridge, with a load capacity of over 400 tonnes, was constructed at a cost of Rwf6 billion. It was financed by Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Addressing the media after the official opening of the bridge, Honore Munyenshongore, the project engineer attached to RTDA, said the new bridge replaced the old one that was much weaker.
“We put four trailers on each lane to ascertain the capacity of the bridge,” he said.
The bridge links an important route – the Central Corridor that connects not only Rwanda, but also neighbouring countries to the port of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
“The old bridge supported only 56 tonnes. It was risky because freight carriers sometimes cheated and loaded 100 tonnes,” the engineer said.
He said the bridge was the first of its kind in the country, with all features of a modern bridge.
He advised drivers to observe roadside signage, when approaching the bridge from either side of the border, to avoid driving on the wrong lane.
Vehicles from either side of the bridge are supposed to keep left while on the bridge.
Construction of a modern One Stop Border Post (OSBP) is also at its advanced stages.
Munyenshongore further said the overall project; would be completed by December 2014.
“The OSBP and the bridge cost a total of Rwf20 billion. The two will be shared by both countries. We shall have officials from the two countries working under one roof. The OSBP should be ready by December,” Munyenshongore said.
Meanwhile businesses operating along the border have welcomed the new infrastructure.
Aloys Kanamugire, a businessman, said the new bridge and the OSBP, in general, have given the area a major facelift.
He told The New Times that the project employed hundreds of people, adding that farmers also benefitted from selling their produce to project workers.