First Uganda opted for Tanzania pipeline, now Rwanda abandons Kenya SGR rail route, picks Dar es Salaam

In March Tanzania and Uganda agreed to build a $4 billion pipeline to transport crude oil from Kabale in Uganda to Tanga Port in Tanzania

KIGALI—Rwanda has announced plans to develop rail links to Indian Ocean ports through Tanzania because they were cheaper and shorter than the route transiting Kenya, says Claver Gatete, Rwanda minister of finance and economic planning.

Gatete told reporters on Sunday that the Tanzania route was cheaper and would not take long to be completed compared to the Kenya route. 

In 2013, Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda agreed to link up to the Kenyan port of Mombasa along a standard-gauge railway estimated to cost $13 billion. Studies done by member states in the six-nation East African Community (EAC) showed that the Tanzanian option would cost Rwanda about $800 to $900 million dollars while the Kenyan one would go for $1 billion, according to the Rwanda ministry of East African Community Affairs report. 

“We opted for the route transiting to Tanzania during the construction of our railway line because the Kenyan route would be expensive and time consuming,” said Gatete.

The Dar es Salaam-Isaka-Kigali/Keza-Musongati (DIKKM) standard gauge railway (SGR) project is expected to be completed by March 2018 and is estimated to cost three countries $5.2 billion.

 Eng. Jules Ndenga, acting special project implementation unit coordinator at the Rwanda ministry of Infrastructure, said that Rwanda and Tanzania had already held joint technical monitoring committee meeting to fast-track the project implementation. “We are conducting a joint development of the standard gauge railway with our counterparts from Burundi and Tanzania. 

We have agreed contract terms and conditions and the Rwanda Transport Development Agency (RTDA), will procure it on behalf of the three countries,” he added. The railway route via Tanzania will link Kigali to a port in Tanzania’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam. A new railway is being built from Isaka in northwestern Tanzania to Kigali, with a branch to Musongati in neighbouring Burundi. The existing railway from Dar es Salaam to Isaka is being upgraded.

This will be yet another boost to Tanzania, and its anti-corruption-driven President John Magufuli’s plans to make the country the leading economy in the region. In March Tanzania and Uganda agreed to build a $4 billion pipeline to transport crude oil from Kabale in Uganda to Tanga Port in Tanzania’s Indian Ocean coast. 

Uganda chose the Tanzania route, saying it was cheaper, had more access infrastructure, and presented fewer complications in securing land for it.

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