Rwanda's efforts of becoming a regional trade logistics hub have gained impetus after Dubai Ports World (DPW) group said it is set to operationalise the country's largest inland cargo handling facility following completion of the first phase of construction works.
The United Arab Emirates firm signed a 25-year concession agreement with government in 2016 to construct and manage the facility dubbed 'Kigali Logistics Platform' (KLP).
Construction works on the Masaka based facility are currently on the verge of completion and installation of machinery and equipment is underway. It's being built on 30 hectares of land.
Sumeet Bhardwaj, Chief Executive Officer of DPW Logistics Rwanda Ltd, told The New Times that they hope to be operational by the end of the next quarter.
Among the remaining processes is acquisition of operational permits to allow commencement of operations. The facility had been initially slated to be completed by July this year.
However, Bhardwaj said that they only acquired construction permit in August last year.
The facility is expected to improve efficiency and reduce cost of logistics by embracing the use of modern machinery.
Built on 969,000 sq. ft, the cargo handling facility has features such as container yard and bonded warehouse, among others.
The facility is supposed to have 50,000 twenty-foot equivalent units and 640,000 tonnes of warehousing space.
Bhardwaj said that the new facility will reduce waiting time for trucks as it has adequate space for the offloading of cargo.
It is estimated that trucks often spend between a week and 10 days waiting at the current main cargo handling facility which not only consumes time but also takes up resources.
The waiting fees per truck is between $150 and $200 per day. Bhardwaj said that the facility will eliminate such costs and allow truckers and clients concentrate elsewhere.
The size and capacity of the facility will allow trucks to deposit their containers at the facility as opposed to waiting until the assets are cleared.
"We are also automating the entire process to increase efficiency and over time we will set up a paperless system. We have been conducting training and workshops with stakeholders such as freight-forwarders."
The initial cost of the facility was estimated at about $35m. Without disclosing the cost incurred so far, Bhardwaj said that they were currently signing the second phase of facility's construction with the first phase having taken up 'considerable funding.'
DPW is also rolling out a mobile application to enable clients to process their cargo online and remotely eliminating manual processes.
"We have also integrated with Bank of Kigali and Rwanda Revenue Authority to enable clients process taxes further easing the process," he added.
The Minister for Trade and Industry, Vincent Munyeshaka, said that as per the Government's agreement with the firm, the new facility will address challenges in logistics.
"Among other things, the facility will reduce the time taken and improve efficiency for stakeholders," he said.
Munyeshaka said that the agreement also has a provision for working space for the firm formerly operating the main dry port, Magerwa, and other firms and stakeholders.
Logistics players are upbeat about the development saying it could improve the efficiency of operations and reduce cost of operations.
Moses Rutayisire, a Kigali based wholesaler of household products, told The New Times that the facility will operate with greater efficiency and was a timely intervention given the recent growth in Rwanda's trade volumes.