Burundi Rwanda Tanzania Railway Project to Reduce Costs

According to a recent report by the East African Business Week (EABW), experts are anticipating that construction on the Burundi, Rwanda Tanzania railway, which is scheduled to begin this year, will likely be completed by 2014.

Previous studies estimated that the total cost for the construction project would be USD 3.5 billion, however, construction experts, who met in Kigali at the end of last month, have since indicated that the costs for the construction project could potentially drop by as much as 30 percent.

In addition to the, the railway line between Dar es Salaam and Isaka is also scheduled to be modernized to a 1,435mm standard gauge railway.

Currently, Rwanda is in charge of coordinating the multi-country project and, according to the Rwandan minister of infrastructure Eng. Linda Bihire, already costs for the project have dropped to USD 2.45 billion.

In a round-table meeting that was held last month, Ms. Bihire said that, in addition to other stakeholders, the World Bank, miners and financers have found the railway project to be a viable undertaking.

The current plan for the railroad is to construct a modern high-speed train that travels with a minimum speed of 120 kilometers per hour.

Upon completion of the project, the majority of importers and exporters will shift from Mombasa port to Dar es Salaam port as it will become possible to deliver imports to Kigali within a single day, as opposed to the six days it currently takes for imports from Dar es Salaam.

If the project is successful, the high-speed train will be the fastest in the East African region with the capacity to carry several tons of cargo in 2,000 wagons.

The recent request and push to extend the railway line from the coast to Kigali comes partially as a result of the fact that Rwandan importers, who rely heavily on road transport, are concerned that they are spending as much as 40 percent of their capital on transport.

According to Ms. Bihire, once the project has been completed, the transport costs will be significantly reduced to less than 20 percent.

Ms. Bihire went on to say that the completed project will also make it possible for approximately 4.5 million tons of minerals to be hauled by the railway from Burundi to Tanzania.

The recent EABW report indicated that the experts who performed the feasibility report on the railway project remain optimistic that the new railway will help to encourage the development and exploitation of some of the natural resources that have yet to be exploited in Burundi and the Congo.

Recent maritime records have shown that the amount of containers that transit Tanzania is expected to increase by as much as 3 million foot equivalent units (FEUs) in the coming 20 years.

Last year alone, the amount of containers that was handled by the Dar es Salaam Port was 350,000 more than the anticipated 250,000.

According to Ms. Bihire, in addition to its other benefits, the current railway project will also help to update the Tanzania transport system, specifically in regard to the Dar es Salaam ports and help to ease the problem of congestion by increasing the number of berths.