The much anticipated railway line in Rwanda will delay until 2030 – East African Legislative assembly members meeting in Kigali have said.
Rwanda has to wait for her neighbour Uganda to complete building its route connecting Kampala-Kasese-Mpondwe-Mirama hill which will connect with Kagitumba border in the eastern part of Rwanda.
However, Uganda has not yet started building this route because it also has to wait for the Kenyans to complete building the Naivasha-Malaba route by 2020 to connect with Uganda on the Malaba border.
Rwanda ability to tap onto the regional network will depend on progress of implementation of railway projects under the northern corridor initiative in Tanzania and Uganda.
These routes are Dar-es-salaam-Isaka-Kigali route which will connect Rwanda on the south eastern part, but this route is still at study-level and basic design was only approved in august 2016.
A report on the progress of the oversight of EAC railway infrastructure development conducted in 2016, and presented to EALA lawmakers this Wednesday shows that Kenya has made the largest progress in general compared to other countries.
“So far Kenya has completed the Mombasa- Nairobi route and is now mobilizing funds for the Nairobi-Naivasha route to be commissioned in 2019 but with current plans to identify funds for Naivasha- Malaba route which is to be commissioned in 2020.”
According to the report Kenya has so far spent Ksh81billion on the Mombasa- Nairobi route on civil works, and started training 107 local technicians out of 1200 planned for 2017, and have sent 25 students to study in china on railway engineering scholarships out of 200 needed in eight years.
The report observed that while Kenya is making progress, other regional countries have remained at the feasibility study and nothing has been done due to lack of financing and lack of information sharing.
Though Rwanda is among the countries lagging behind, Hon Patricia Hajabakiga (Rwanda), EALA lawmaker, believes it will quickly catch up once the railways from Uganda and Tanzania reach the Rwandan borders.
“Compared to Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda routes, Rwanda has short routes and it can complete them in a very short time. It is justifiable that it cannot start constructing a railway unless bordering routes are complete. Instead Rwanda should focus on other major infrastructures like airports and roads,” Hajabakiga said.
Railway transport is the second most important mode of transport after road and critical for long distance freight along the main transport corridors and boosting of rail networks could more than triple the current handlings over the next 20 years from the current 70-80 percent share of the freight market.
The EAC secretariat resolved urging EAC Partner States to establish EAC Railway Authority (EACRA) and despite the completion of its master plan in 2006 it has been noted that the plan does not provide for a joint authority to manage the railway systems in the region.
This Thursday afternoon, EALA members will reconvene to discuss reasons why the railway progress has lagged and find concrete recommendations.