The much anticipated Burundi-Rwanda-Tanzania railway development project reached an historic moment last week as the countries officially signed a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at further developing the railroad that will connect the three countries.
The meeting for the signing of the MoU was chaired by Linda Bihire, Rwanda’s Minister of Infrastructure, and was attended by the Infrastructure Ministers of Tanzania and Burundi as well, Shukuru Jumanne Kawambwa and Philippe Njoni respectively.
The MoU was signed by each of the country’s respective Infrastructure ministers after a the sixth 6th Meeting of the Sectoral Council on Transport, Communications and Meteorology (TCM), a meeting which lasted five days and was held in Arusha, Tanzania.
According the MoU, the various governments will work together on a new railway network that will improve, update and develop the line that runs from Isaka-Kigali-Keza-Gitega-Musongati and will do the same for the Central Corridor Railway network to the Dar es Salaam port.
The MoU goes on to indicate that each country is expected to help facilitate the construction of the right of way for the railway line within their territories, as well to help initiate and facilitate any technical studies that may be required, including the mobilization of funds for a study on the implementation of the project as well as guaranteed financial commitment.
The financial commitment of each country will be based on equity share following the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model that was specifically adopted for the development of the railway.
At this point, the actual cost of the project has not yet been resolved, however, according to the MoU, the three governments will work together in order to deal with issues concerning the development of the railway line and its link to the Central Corridor Railway network.
According to the Directorate of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs of the East African Community (EAC), Othieno Ocheng, this move is a joint decision by each of the three EAC countries and indicates that each is committed to supporting the development and implementation of the railway network.
The EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Finance and Administration, Julius Tangus Rotich, has noted the important role that transportation plays in the overall regional integration process.
“The transport policy development has been entrenched in the Common Market Protocol which is under negotiation,” said Mr. Rotich, “This is an indicator of the central role transport plays in the EAC regional integration process.”
Mr. Rotich went on to indicate that the sector was still facing challenges on both technical and administration, such as the slow ratification of protocols and the lack of appropriate funding for various projects and programs.
With this in mind and in order to help offset these sectoral problems, the three governments have agreed to set up a Joint Technical Monitoring Committee (JTMC) that will be in charge of monitoring and managing the technical aspects involved in the railway project.