On the 19th of March, 2018, Rwanda and Tanzania representatives met in Kigali and agreed to review the design of Isaka-Kigali Standard Gauge Railway dropping the earlier proposed use of diesel engines to favor electric locomotives. The electric high–speed railway will link the Tanzanian port of Dar-es-Salaam to Kigali with an approximate stretch of 1,320 km.
The projected time frame to start the railway construction has still remains October, 2018. For which the two governments plan to tender the job in the next three months. This means that by July and August, the selected contractor will have mobilized necessary logistics for project take-off.
Launched on 20th, January, 2018, the initial diesel Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from the port of Dar es Salaam to Kigali was expected to cost about US$2.5 billion. This bill was to be settled on an approximately 50-50 basis.
The two countries are expected to pay more than US$2.5 billion for the new electric high-speed railway but environmental friendly.
According to the The EastAfrican, Kenya and Uganda’s SGR were built by the Chinese government, however, Rwanda and Tanzania have agreed to open tenders for the most suitable financing option.
The change in plan means that the proposed trains will now be faster; with cargo trains travelling at 120 km/hr instead of the earlier planned 80 km/hr and the passenger train travelling at 160 km/hr instead of the earlier proposed 120 km/hr.
In conclusion, the main aspects for the recent reviews were train efficiency and impact on the region's environment. The electric trains scored better than diesel on both counts. The move puts the project planning in sync with international trends which are shifting away from diesel over environmental concerns.
By Joseph Semuju
Community Manager - AMO
African Mobilities Observatory - AMO, MICHELIN.