President Paul Kagame and President Yoweri Museveni are today expected to commission rehabilitation works for the Kigali-Gatuna-Mbarara highway at a ceremony set to be held on the Rwanda-Uganda border.
According to a statement from the President’s Office, the two Heads of State will flag off ground works for the rehabilitation of the two stretches, from Kigali to Gatuna and from Katuna on the Ugandan side to Mbarara.
The two sections are funded by the European Union.
The Government of Rwanda entered a financing agreement for the rehabilitation of Kigali-Gatuna, with the European Commission to the tune of €32m last year. An additional addendum adding €15m was also signed.
The money came from the European Development Fund (EDF) regional funds, in order to upgrade the technical specifications and improve the road in accordance with regional standards.
The 78km stretch that links Burundi and Rwanda as well as DR Congo to Uganda, will be constructed by the European firm Strabag International according to the State Minister in charge of Transport, Dr. Alexis Nzahabwanimana.
“The project is part of the bigger Northern Corridor. We thought it would be important to launch it jointly. The two Heads of State have agreed to grace the occasion. It shows the regional importance of this road,” Nzahabwanimana said.
Strabag will begin setting up work stations in January but real construction work begins in May.
The contract awarded to Strabag involves works to rehabilitate the Kigali–Gatuna road and involves crossing the swamp areas which have severely been damaged along the road and have actually become black spots.
The project also envisages the reconstruction of 115 concrete culverts, the construction of 73 arched metal duct drainage systems and improvement works for existing bridges as well as constructing a roundabout at the approach to Kigali.
“The rehabilitation of the Kigali-Mbarara stretch will lead to the intensification of regional economic integration and also facilitate Rwanda, Burundi and Eastern DRC to access Mombasa port,” the statement from the President’s office says.
Part of the rehabilitation plan is to work on the improvement of the parking area as part of a wider initiative to create a single border post at Gatuna and the building of a roundabout at Nyabugogo to facilitate the traffic flow.
The Katuna-Mbarara project concerns the rehabilitation of an important section of the Northern Corridor Route (NCR) which is the main transport link between the port of Mombasa in Kenya and the landlocked countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi and eastern region of Congo.
The project covers the entire stretch between Mbarara and Katuna at the border with Rwanda with a total distance of 124 Km.
The overall objective of the project is to improve international and domestic trade and promote regional and sub-regional integration, and provide a safe and sustainable road network thereby reducing transport costs.
Regarding the domestic economy, the route serves the highly productive rural South-West. A wider road with paved shoulders, climbing lanes and corrected alignments will improve traffic safety; reduce travel time and vehicle operating costs.
The Kigali-Gatuna highway is the busiest road in terms of traffic mainly serving as the main channel of transport between Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Burundi.
The business community has welcomed the initiative to rehabilitate the road, observing that it will greatly cut the cost of transport once complete.
“It will greatly help us improve on the delivery of goods and cut the costs of operation. The current condition of the road has been resulting into delays and also led to high maintenance costs of the vehicles,” said Abdoul Ndarubogoye, the president of Rwanda Truckers Association (ATAR).