The much-anticipated, multi-billion dollar, railway project that will link the country to the Dar es Salaam port is expected to kick off next year.
A development confirmed by the Minister of Infrastructure, Linda Bihire, during an exclusive interview, with The New Times, last evening.
According to a feasibility study done by DB International, a German firm, the project which will also extend to Burundi will cost USD 4bn (approx Rwf 2 trillion), stretching for 691km.
“The project is expected to start next year and we are on schedule despite some arrangements that remain to be finalised. But the Government of Rwanda is ready to play its part to see it through,” Bihire said during the interview at her office.
Underscoring that this will be the country’s biggest project ever, Bihire said it is expected to be realised through the Public-Private Partnership (PPP).
She said that the private sector is ready to swing into action once the governments of the three countries involved-Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania—have finalised the regulatory framework.
“The private sector is very much interested because this is an economically viable project,” she said adding that Burlington, Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway which is the biggest railway company in the United States (US), has already shown interest.
“BNSF has already offered to help us with the requisite expertise,” she added.
The project which is expected to be carried out in three phases is expected to take five years to complete and will be jointly funded by the three governments and donors.
“The first phase will provide for the extension of the line from Isaka to Kigali and Bujumbura (currently not yet there) and the second will be to refurbish the existing line linking Isaka to Dar es Salaam while the third phase will see to the modernisation of the Dar es Salaam port to accommodate the traffic,” she explained.
The minister said that some of the benefits expected after the completion of the project will be easy transportation of goods from the port to the Rwandan hinterland.
“It will be efficient in terms of time and resources because our agricultural products will now easily get to the market, and in the process the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will inevitably increase,” she predicted.
According to Bihire, there will also be a reduction of the tonnage on the roads which will spare local highways that have been devastated by heavy duty trucks transporting merchandise from the port to the country.
She called upon Rwandans to cooperate especially when the time comes for some to be expropriated to pave way for the construction works, saying that they will have everything to benefit.