Tanzania: Roads Unlock Kagera Region Potential to Boost Intra-Regional Trade

KAGERA Region boasts of good road network that have boosted the potential of the strategically positioned lake zone region to serve the East African region.

The region located at the extreme North-Western corner of Tanzania Mainland, borders Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda. Kenya can also be directly reached through Lake Victoria. It is also a gateway to South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Due to its strategic geographical location, Kagera Region is in proximity of the entire East African Community (EAC) market of population about 190 million, which means that goods and services produced in Kagera Region have a potential market within the EAC region and beyond.

The government was keen to link all border regions with tarmac roads to hasten people's development. During the past five years (2015- 2020) the government had constructed 2,624.7 kmroad network which was about 600km per year, while 4,856km-road network was under feasibility study.

Kagera Regional Manager of the Tanzania National Roads Agency (Tanroads), Andrea Kasamwa said that the region has a total of 7,505km roads network. About 925km equivalent of 48.2 per cent of roads are in good condition, and 849.6km (about 44.3 per cent) are in average condition. Some 143.4km roads (about 7.5 per cent) were in poor condition.

Some of the completed projects include the 154km Mutukula-Kagoma-Lusahunga road, which cost 160bn/- on completion and the 59.1km Kyaka-Bugene road which cost a total of 65bn/- on completion.

He said rehabilitation of Lusahunga-Nyakanazi and Nyakanazi-Rusumo road would cost about 5bn/- while negotiations between Tanzania and the African Development Bank (ADB) were in advanced stages to get funds for the reconstruction of the Isaka-Ushirombo, Ushirombo- Lusahunga and Lusahunga- Rusumo road.

The road's life-span has expired after being in use for almost 34 years. Both roads align to the Central Corridor identified by Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa - Priority Action Plan (PIDA-PAP) to modernise the third priority African Regional Transport Integration Network (ARTIN) corridor in East Africa and facilitate travel for people and goods across the borders between Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and DRC.

In addition, these roads were given high priority by the 2nd EAC Heads of States Retreat on Infrastructure Development held in 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya as crucial links in promoting regional integration and easing of access to the sea for the two landlocked countries, in line with the Almaty Programme of Action (APOA).

TARURA Regional Manager, Engineer Avith Theodory revealed that TARURA has a total of 5,536.8km regional roads network. About 41.2km are tarmac roads while 5,238.4km are gravel roads. About 457.5km are in Biharamulo District, Bukoba Rural (812km), Karagwe (1,370.7km), Kyerwa (882km), Missenyi (724.9km), Bukoba Municipal ( 176.1km), Muleba ( 1,405km) and Ngara (717.9km).

Several border roads had already been earmarked and a budget had been set aside for that purpose. The envisaged roads include the 55.6km Mutukula-Kakunyu road along beacon number 29 to beacon number 35, Bubale- Misssenyi Ranch-Kakunyu (32.5km) and Nsunga-Byeju- Mutukula (20.5km) road. Others are Bubale-Kamwena (17.8km), Missenyi Ranch-Bugango (17km), in Missenyi District and Nyabishenge-Nyakanoni- Ibanda Game Reserve (25km ) in Kyerwa District. Kagera Regional Commissioner (RC) Brig Gen Marco Gaguti tasked TARURA to hasten completion of border roads for security purposes. Border roads are of paramount importance.

Security issues include illegal immigrants, smuggling of crops and goods and invasion of unvaccinated livestock. While neighbouring countries have border roads, Tanzania lacks the facility. He said the government was committed to pay contractors undertaking various public works on time directed Muleba, Bukoba, Biharamulo, Ngara, Karagwe, Kyerwa and Missenyi district councils to set aside funds for roads maintenance instead of solely depending on the central government budget.

"We must change the attitude of depending solely on the central government and donors because the budget was very tight. Mr Gaguti said he was confident that the roads projects would enhance social and economic growth, reinforce regional integration within the East African region.

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