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Bugesera Road Expansion Taking Shape

by Edmund Kagire
1:22 pm

Works to expand the Sonatubes-Gahanga-Akagera bridge road are set to be complete by April next year as the road works approach Nyanza-Kicukiro, despite the expropriation exercise continuing.

According to Imena Munyampenda, the Director General of Rwanda Transport Development Agency (RTDA), expansion of the 13.8km road which stretches from Sonatubes in Kicukiro, to River Akagera (also known as River Nyabarongo) bridge will be done in April next year as scheduled.

The road is comprised of a four-lane express way and beautification features including a separation line which will be littered with palm trees, grass and street lights.

“The expansion is in line with the development of New Bugesera International Airport because we expect traffic to increase once the airport is operational,” Munyampenda said.

The upgrading works for Sonatubes- Gahanga – Akagera road project will cost about $54m (Rwf48 billion) by the time of completion, financed through a concessional loan from Exim Bank of China to the Government of Rwanda.

There will be another section from Akagera River Bridge to the airport but the government is yet to finalize on that phase. It is expected that the developers of the airport which is undergoing a redesign will develop the section leading up to the airport.

It is understood that due to the revision of the design, the first phase which was expected to be complete by December 2020 might delay because negotiations with potential investors and developers are still ongoing.

KT Press learnt through reliable sources that by press time, a team which accompanied President Paul Kagame to Qatar was partly there to conclude negotiations with Qatari investors keen on putting money in the development of the airport.

There have been reports that Qatar Airways is also keen on acquiring a stake in the national carrier Rwandair. Works on the airport were stopped earlier this year to allow a redesign of the airport to ‘make it more compliant and fit to purpose’, the Minister of Infrastructure Claver Gatete said in March this year.

Construction of the airport started in 2017 under a public-private partnership between the government and Mota Engil and was expected to cost $400m in first phase and. It is not yet clear if Mota Engil will remain on board if the government secures other potential investors in the project.

Sources further say Bugesera is not part of the plan as Rwanda readies itself to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which will be hosted in Rwanda in June next year.

Government has been courting Qatari investors to put money on the new airport which was previously expected to have a passenger terminal covering 30,000 square metres, 22 check-in counters, 10 gates, six passenger boarding bridges and other features that would enable it to handle about 1.7 million passengers annually.

It is not yet clear whether the redesign of the facility will affect the earlier planned features. The government revealed that the redesign is aimed at making Bugesera International Airport one of the greenest airports on the continent.

More roads expected

Apart from expansion of the Sonatubes-Gahanga-Akagera Bridge road, there are more roads linking Bugesera International Airport to the city which will be constructed to ease traffic and movement of goods.

According to Munyampenda, there is a section linking Masaka to Bugesera, going through the Kigali Logistics Platform inland dry port run by DP World to ease movement of cargo to and from the airport and also give passengers a second alternative.

“We anticipate a lot of traffic, so there will be many options to access the airport once it is complete,” he said, adding that the government was able to save about $34m on the World Bank financed Nyanza-Ngoma road, which will be used to develop the road from Masaka to Bugesera.

Earlier this year, the Chinese funded expansion of the Prince House Remera-Nyandungu-Masaka road through a $42.8 m grant. The two roads will be connected at Masaka near the inland port to facilitate quicker movement to and from the airport.

The expansion of the Sonatubes-Gahanga-Akagera bridge road is being done by China Road and Bridge Cooperation (CRBC).

About 320 properties will be expropriated in an ongoing exercise expected to end in November this year, with the government footing the Rwf5bn expropriation bill.

The first phase was from Akagera River Bridge to Gahanga sector, second phase from Gahanga to Nyanza Bus Park, and the third phase which is getting underway is from Nyanza to Sonatubes.