Construction of the Standard Gauge Railway to link Tanzania and locked East African countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi and facilitate transport in the central corridor is expected to start in December.
The Minister for Works, Transport and Communications, Professor Makame Mbarawa, said in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the exercise to seek a contractor who will carry out the project is in good progress.
According to the minister, completion of the projecte is expected to take three years. "The project, which will facilitate railway links between four countries (Rwanda, Burundi, DR Congo and Uganda) and the Dar es Salaam Port, will be implemented in four phases," Prof Mbarawa said while briefing journalists on the resolutions of the Seventh Interstate Council of Ministerial (ICM).
The ICM, which is composed of ministers of transport from Burundi, Rwanda, DR Congo, Uganda and Tanzania, was preceded by a Central Corridor meeting under the chairmanship of the Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communications, Dr Leonard Chamuriho. According to Dr Chamuriho, the meeting centred on how to address challenges facing transport in the Central Corridor and the implementation of the SGR project.
Last month, the government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Exim Bank of China to get a loan to finance the construction of a 2,190-kilometre central railway line to SGR standards.
The railway line will run from Dar es Salaam to Tabora-Isaka-Mwanza, Tabora-Mpanda-Kalemela, Tabora-Uvinza-Kigoma and Isaka-Keza-Musongati and Burundi. The railway lines connect landlocked East African countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
The line to Kigali, Rwanda, will ultimately connect the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The entire project is estimated to cost about 16 trillion/- in which the railway line is expected to connect the port of Dar es Salaam to Rwanda and Burundi, while two additional lines will connect Dar es Salaam to the coal, iron ore and soda ash mining areas in the south and northern parts of the country.
Burundi Minister for Transport, Engineer John Bosco Ntunzwenimana, expressed gratitude to the government of Tanzania for spearheading the project, noting that the Burundi government was committed to the project.
"The project will tremendously address the challenge of transport from the Port of Dar es Salaam to Burundi," he observed. Central Corridor Transit Transport Agency Board member and former chairman of Uganda Shipping Association, Mr Charles Kareba, expressed delight in the construction of the SGR to connect Uganda.