RWANDA’S SENATE DEMANDS ACTION ON KEY ROAD ALONG THE ‘CONGO NILE TRAIL’
(Posted 02nd December 2013)
Rwanda’s upper house of parliament, the Senate, last week met with the Minister of State in the Ministry of Infrastructure to discuss, among other topics, the state of progress of the crucial Ruzizi – Rubavu road, construction of which has started already 3 years ago.
The road covers the entire length of a tourism trail now known as the Congo Nile Trail, which runs from Cyangugu, the border town with the Congo DR served by the Kamembe airport – RwandAir now operates daily flights from Kigali – to the town of Gisenyi. The trail has attracted much attention among global adventure travelers and seekers of active vacations, which include hikes or bike trails, but the state of the road has raised concerns among tourism stakeholders who would want to take clients the ‘traditional way’, i.e. by safari 4×4 vehicle over better roads than is presently the case.
While the senators made it clear that they want the road finished, so do tourism stakeholders and one regular commenter wrote recently when discussing the impact of the Congo Nile Trail until now on Rwanda’s tourism offerings: ‘The trail is a great idea. It has opened up a part of Rwanda few people in the past thought about. You helped a lot to popularize it and we now have more and more visitors coming to hike or bike sections of the trail. However, most of our clients still want to go and track the gorillas or the golden monkeys and when they have stayed for that in Musanze [formerly Ruhengeri] we need good roads to take them along the trail. There is no problem to Gisenyi of course but a tarmac road from there to Kibuye along the lake, which is the scenic route tourists expect to see, will help us a lot. Visitors could do a complete loop during a safari, from Kigali to see the gorillas, then to Gisenyi, on to Kibuye and then all the way to Nyungwe Forest park before returning back to Kigali via Huye. A good tarmac road will open that part of the country a lot, not just for tourists but also for us local people and trade will grow even to and from the Bukavu side of Congo‘.
True enough that Rwanda, where tourism has become a main pillar of the local economy and has seen double digit growth in recent years, needs to add more attractions or make those attractions more easily accessible by road, so the demand by the senators can only be supported to open up Rwanda for visitors who come to see more then ‘just gorillas’. Welcome to the land of a thousand hills, and as a friend recently put it, also the land of a hundred thousand opportunities.