10 March 2018

Rwanda, Tanzania Opt for Electric Trains

Photo: The Citizen
(file photo).

Rwanda and Tanzania have agreed to review the design of Isaka-Kigali standard gauge railway. They have dropped the proposed use of diesel engines in favour of electric locomotives.

Experts say that electric trains are more efficient and environmental friendly as opposed to diesel trains.

During the second meeting held in Kigali, of ministers responsible for transport in both countries, over the issue, a directive was agreed for Rwanda Transport Development Agency (RTDA) and Joint Technical Monitoring Committee (JTMC) to update the feasibility study on behalf of the two countries before establishment of a Project Implementation Unit (PIU).

Rwanda's Minister of State in charge of Transport, Jean de Dieu Uwihanganye, and Prof. Makame M. Mbarawa, the Minister for Works, Transport and Communication of Tanzania, signed yet another agreement leading to the implementation phase of the project.

The proposed timeframe for ground breaking of the railway that will link the Tanzanian port of Dar-es-Salaam and Kigali remains October 2018.

Addressing the media after signing of agreement, Uwihanganye noted that the change in design was inspired by the fact that, "We need to reduce the time of travel and cost of transportation of people and goods between Dar es Salaam and Kigali and improve efficiency for the railway. All that called for the review of the feasibility studies".

Mbarawa said that the two governments will collectively review the study after the procurement processes - probably in one month's time.

"The previous study which was done provided that a cargo train would move at a speed of 80km/hr and the passenger train move at 120km/hr. During that study we wanted to use diesel locomotive, but after examining this more carefully we realised that we can reduce on the time it will take for cargo and passengers to be on train. Under the proposed electric locomotive, passenger trains will travel at a speed of 160km/hr while cargo train will move at a speed of 120km/hr," he revealed.

The distance between Dar-es-Salaam and Kigali is 1,320km. The change in design means that if someone has a cargo in Dar-es-Salaam it will take them maximum 15 hours to arrive in Kigali while the passengers will last approximately 10 hours on the train.

After reviewing the feasibility study, the two governments will then open bids to contractors interested in building this railway line.

"It will be an open tender where everybody interested can apply. We will follow existing laws and regulations governing public tenders, and according to the regulations, this will take us at least three months. This might go up to July and then in August we will have mobilisation period - where the contractor will bring in the equipment and other logistics involved. Following that order, we believe that the foundation stone of this project will be laid at least in October," Mbarawa explained.

The Standard Gauge Railway from the port of Dar es Salaam to Kigali is expected to cost Rwanda and Tanzania close to US$2.5 billion, initial studies had shown. Tanzania will foot $1.3 billion with Rwanda expected to spend $1.2 billion.

When asked about the source of funding and the financing model for the mega project, Minister Mbarawa without revealing details said: "There are different financing models out there but we will consider one that's better for the people of Tanzania and Rwanda. Right now we can't say specifically which model we will adopt because we are not there yet".

The Isaka-Kigali SGR project was launched on January 20, in Dar es Salaam by Rwanda Infrastructure Minister James Musoni and Prof. Mbarawa. It came barely a week after Presidents Paul Kagame and John Pombe Magufuli, sealed a deal that will see the two countries undertake joint construction of the Standard Gauge Railway in January.

Minister Mbarawa and his delegation were in Rwanda for a two-day working visit and they returned to Tanzania last evening.

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