Senate wants Rusizi-Rubavu highway ready by 2016

Senate has urged the government to ensure that construction of the Rusizi-Rubavu highway is concluded before the end of 2016.
A road underconstruction.  The New Times/ File
A road underconstruction. The New Times/ File

Senate has urged the government to ensure that construction of the Rusizi-Rubavu highway is concluded before the end of 2016.

Senators also want the highway made durable and have asked the government to put in place  mechanisms to ensure that all new roads last for at least 20 years.

This was expressed during a meeting between Senators and the Minister of State in charge of Transport in the Ministry of Infrastructure, Dr Alexis Nzahabwanimana.

The meeting was organised to discuss concerns highlighted by the standing committee on Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Security.

Among the concerns by the committee that recently inspected roads, is the delay in the construction of the Rusizi-Rubavu road that started in 2010.

Sen. Jean Damascène Bizimana, the chairperson of the Committee, said: “In a period of three years, from October 2010 to October 2013, only 50 kilometers, equivalent to 23 per cent of the entire highway, had been completed.”

Nzahabwanimana assured the senators that all is being done to finish the job on schedule.

“All funds are now available and we believe the road will be completed by the end of 2016,” he said.

The minister said the road will be divided into seven sections to be handled by seven different contractors. The project’s cost is estimated at approximately $58.14 million.

Senate findings also reveal some mistakes in feasibility studies, shoddy works and destruction of people’s houses.

The committee attributed this to lack of appropriate monitoring of contractors and lack of environmental impact assessment studies.

The minister said, apart from improved monitoring during construction, timely value for money audits will be carried out on every section of the road declared ready by the contractor.

 “The contractor responsible for any shoddy work will certainly be held responsible. We are holding 10 per cent of the money until work is concluded satisfactorily. This is stipulated in the contracts,” Nzahabwanimana said.

 The road is part of the trans-national Bujumbura-Rusizi-Karongi-Rubavu highway which when completed, is expected to promote regional integration and contribute to regional trade as it links Rwanda to Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The 265.7km road, most of it (185km) comprising the so-called Kivu Belt, is seen as crucial in enhancing economic and social development of Rwanda’s north western regions.

The Rwandan section includes feeder roads connecting to Lake Kivu to serve the local fishing and tourism industry.

Last year, the government and Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED), penned a loan agreement amounting to $13.6 million to fund its construction.

Construction works on the $63 million 50km Rusizi-Mwityazo section, started in 2010 with financial support from the African Development Bank.

The Kuwait Fund will finance the 26km Rusizi-Rubavu stretch. The OPEC Fund for International Development also released $11 million for the 23.6km Rubengera-Gisiza                      stretch.

Other co-financers are the government of Rwanda ($ 5.7m), the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa or BADEA, ($11m) and the Saudi Bank for Economic Development ($ 13 m).

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