KEY HIGHWAY FROM KIGALI TO MUSANZE / RUHENGERI BLOCKED BY LANDSLIDES
One of Rwanda’s most important traffic arteries, the highway from Kigali to Musanze, and from there on to Gisenyi, was yesterday completely blocked when a land slide took out half of the road at Gashenyi / Gakenke District.
The road, hugely important for trade, i.e. to bring agricultural products to the markets in Kigali and in turn to supply the upcountry areas, besides being the main access route for tourists to reach the Volcanoes National Park where gorilla tracking is on offer, was closed for fear of more traffic collapsing the remaining road structure.
According to a tourism source in Kigali, a section of nearly 100 metres was washed away in a land slide, as heavy rains have been pounding not just Rwanda but much of Eastern Africa.
‘This is a key road in Rwanda. There are few options but very wide detours which are not viable. Right now, vehicles are stuck on both sides of the collapse stretch. What we are trying to do is to have busses swap passengers, like the ones coming from Kigali will have passengers get out and carry their bags over that stretch where there is only half tarmac now. The passengers from busses coming from Musanze or Gisenyi will do the same and then board the respective other busses for their onward journey. The bus operators use mobile phones to communicate to colleagues on the other end to make arrangements so that local travelers and even tourists can at least reach Kigali if they have to fly home or reach the park for their gorilla experience. But trucks and their cargo are just stuck right now, there is nothing which can be done. Even when a detour has been opened, that will be a soil road and truck will be banned from it because they will get stuck and block it again. We just beg for understanding from our tourist visitors that they bear with us but this is really beyond anyone’ said the source on the phone last evening.
Due to being a weekend no official statements could be obtained from RDB’s Tourism and Conservation Department as to the logistics involved should tourists not be able to be at the Kinigi park headquarters for the mandatory briefing at 7 am on the day of their tracking, though it is understood that this emergency situation has triggered a reaction of flexibility for those coming late or else not arriving until very much later that day.
From another source it was mentioned that creating a bypass might take up to two weeks and that a full repair of the section might take several months due to the steep terrain and the caution which needs to be exercised to avoid further landslides.