Tanzania and Rwanda agree to share burden on 400km electrified rail link

Rwanda has agreed to help with the 400km extension of Tanzania’s standard gauge railway (SGR) from Isaka in northwestern Tanzania to Kigali. The agreement was reached by the presidents of the two countries during a meeting in Dar es Salaam on Sunday, 14 January.

President Magufuli of Tanzania said infrastructure ministers from the two countries would meet within a fortnight to start planning the project. He said: "President Kagame and I want to unveil the foundation stone to usher the construction this year."

He added that funding would be found by the governments from their own resources and from loans.

Tanzania’s SGR will run from the port of Dar es Salaam to the capital of Rwanda. Two other stages are under way, from Dar to Morogoro and from Morogoro to Dodoma. Work is being carried out by Yapi Merkezi Insaat, with help from Portugal’s Mota-Engil in the first phase.

When complete it will be able to transport 17 million tonnes of cargo a year.

Tanzania is racing with Kenya to complete a line to the Great Lakes states of Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda. Tanzania started its project after Kenya, but its line is electrified whereas Kenya’s will initially rely on diesel engines. Tanzania is also claiming that its line will be 40km/h faster and 50% cheaper.

Construction is expected to last 36 months.

Image: The Tazara railway, built by the Chinese in the 1970s (Jossejonathan/Creative Commons)

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