Tanzania and Rwanda have announced that the construction of the 571km-long standard gauge railway line linking Isaka township in Tanzania with the Rwandan capital, Kigali will begin this December once a contractor has been identified.
The announcement was made through a joint statement by the Tanzania Minister for Works, Transport and Communication, Isaack Kamwelwe, and his Rwandan counterpart Claver Getete when the two met recently in Dar es Salaam to finalise plans of the $2.5 billion project.
The ministers were accompanied by members of the Joint Technical Monitoring Committee.
The two countries also agreed on the financing modalities, with Tanzania seeking a loan to fund the Isaka-Rusumo stretch and Rwanda opting for a public-private partnership model for its stretch of the line.
When completed, the railway line is expected to improve trade between the two countries by making it easy and cheaper for people and cargo to move across the common border.
On a state visit to Tanzania in January, President Paul Kagame and his host President John Magufuli, jointly asked for the fast-tracking of the project.
They directed their respective ministers responsible for infrastructure and transport to meet in two weeks to deliberate the construction of the railway line. The ministers and technocrats have been meeting occasionally since January, to ensure that the project is executed and finished on schedule.
The design and feasibility study of the railway line -- that will haul cargo from the port of Dar es Salaam to Rwanda, Burundi and northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo -- have been finalised, sources say.
The project is expected to cost $2.5 billion, of which Tanzania will pay $1.3 billion and Rwanda $1.2 billion.
The construction of the 726-km long Dar es Salaam-Morogoro-Dodoma standard gauge railway started about a year ago.
When presenting his ministry's budget for the current final year in parliament, the then minister for Works, Prof Makame Mbarawa, said the railway line will also transport consignments of Nickel deposits from Kabanga Mine in Ngara District, Kagera Region, Tanzania.
The construction of a 726-km SGR line linking Dar es Salaam, Morogoro and Dodoma started about a year ago.