The transport ministers of three countries are meeting in the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam over the railway line project from Dar es Salaam port via Isaka ‘dry port’ to Kigali.
The purpose of the meeting is to speed up the implementation of the corridor and finalize some details of the project. The proposed plan is part of the Central Development Corridor (CDC) for Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi.
The development was confirmed by the infrastructure minister, Linda Bihire, who told The New Times by phone that, the final development draft to establish the railway line from Isaka to Kigali is complete and the project will probably kickoff by the end of 2009.
“Yes, we have got grants from the US government summing to $653,600 and $3.5million from Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway (BNSF) during our visit to Washington, so far now we have finished to sign a contract to upgrade Dar es Salaam port to conform to the standards, probably by next year upgrading will begin,” Bihire stressed.
The current railway line from Dar es Salaam to Isaka dates from as far back as the 1900s and has a narrow gauge. The grant awarded under the US African Trade Lanes Partnership will be used to evaluate the economic and technical feasibility to upgrade the railway to a standard gauge, allow trains to carry more weight, and move trains up to three times faster than the current system, Bihire emphasized.
In combination with improvements at the Port of Dar es Salaam and construction of a new Isaka-to-Kigali rail link, the CDC will convey freight from the Port of Dar es Salaam to a “dry port” at Isaka and onwards.
Following the post-election violence in Kenya in February, Rwanda started bringing imports through Tanzania largely by road- which is very costly due to the long distance.
Rwanda has engaged its regional neighbours to speed up a long-standing plan to extend the railway line to Kigali.