KIGALI’S RAILWAY INFRASTRUCTURE TAKING SHAPE WITH NO DECISION IN SIGHT WHICH LINK WILL COME FIRST
(Posted 18th January 2018)
Rwanda is in a unique position vis a vis their choice of links to the Indian Ocean by rail, as both Tanzania as well as Kenya and Uganda are in the running to connect their proposed SGR railway lines to Kigali.
The Northern Corridor rail development has completed the first section between the port of Mombasa and Nairobi and the phenomenal rise in passenger numbers speaks for itself, though cargo shipments have yet to prove their point.
Both Uganda and Kenya are however still to complete financial closure for the rail links between Kampala and the border with Kenya and from that border crossing to Kisumu, leaving questions marks hanging over the completion date of this railway stretch. On the Kenyan side is only the section between Nairobi and Naivasha financed until now but construction still faces court hearings over the planned route through the Nairobi National Park.
Once complete, or at least for the last section to be built in parallel, will be the Kampala to Kigali section for which both design, routing and financing at present are yet to be fully completed and approved.
Meanwhile has the so called Central Corridor established itself as a viable alternative for Rwanda, as the Tanzanian government continues to push ahead with the new SGR line from Dar es Salaam via Morogoro and Dodoma on to the dry port of Isaka, where the 400 kilometre long link from Kigali is expected to join.
As reported here in the past has Tanzania been courting her hinterland neighbours Rwanda, Burundi and Eastern Congo to join hands in completing the missing section from Isaka, where the new rail line will initially end, to Kigali, Bujumbura and into Eastern Congo, which will of course promote the use of the port of Dar es Salaam as opposed to the port of Mombasa.
Both projects now appear set to go ahead and the one crossing the finishing line first and have trains running all the way to Kigali, will no doubt be in pole position to secure the crucial port use and handling at the – at least initially – expense of the other.
Given the recent decision by Uganda to route her oil export pipeline through Tanzania and not through Kenya as was widely expected, is it now anyone’s guess where Kampala’s priorities may lie when it comes to the rail links. Conventional wisdom always seeks alternatives and to create redundancies and a link from Dar es Salaam via Kigali to Uganda keeps dangling like the proverbial carrot in front of the decision makers, who no doubt weigh pros and cons, looking at timelines and cost besides wider regio-political considerations
However, with Kigali now pressing ahead with creating a passenger and cargo railhead is it clear that Rwanda is determined to create their own rail link to the first railroad reaching her borders.
The other, whichever that will be, may follow suit later on as the race is now underway to tap into a sizeable import and export but also passenger transport markets from Rwanda, Burundi and Eastern Congo.
Watch this space for breaking news as and when further progress can be reported on these key infrastructure developments.
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