Tanzania on Sunday inked a multimillion-dollar deal with neighbouring Burundi to build a Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) linking Gitega to the Indian Ocean.
The planned 282 kilometre SGR railway line will run from Uvinza in Tanzania’s Kigoma region to Gitega in Burundi.
“Today, Prof Makame Mbarawa and I, we signed a bilateral agreement with the government of Burundi to build a Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Uvinza, Tanzania, to Gitega, Burundi,” said Mwigulu Nchemba, Tanzania’s Minister of Finance and Planning.
Without revealing how much the project would cost, Mwigulu said the two countries have agreed to jointly finance the project.
“We have agreed with my counterpart, Minister of Finance in Burundi, to look for areas we can get fund to jointly finance the project,” adds Mwigulu.
The SGR project is intended to link the Dar es Salaam port to landlocked neighbouring countries of Rwanda and Uganda, and through these two, to Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Once complete, it is hoped that the new railway will replace the old meter-gauge railway system, reduce road congestion and decrease freight costs by 40%.
Burundians went cloud nine especially businessmen who use Bujumbura-Dar-Es-Salaam traffic which go over 3,000 km. It takes around 2 weeks to ship fright from Tanzania. Cost is estimated at $2,000 from Dar while it goes up to $3,000 from China Guangzhou or Shanghai for a container.
“We hope that once a railway is settled will reduce cost mainly time but also facility, and enhance security for goods”, said J.M a businessman who operates in Import-Export.
The railway project smoothly will is connect from Tanzania via the central corridor Uvinza-Musongati-Gitega-Bujumbura. It is expected to further connect to Uvira till Kindu. This, however, will enable Burundi to direct access to the coastline, in meantime to reduce the cost of doing business in the region.
In addition, the project is expected to connect Burundi directly to the coastline by the Tanzania Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), “if in place it will fasten the traffic, boost the economy and reduce the price of goods on the markets along the Central Corridor especially for Burundi”, said one of the economists in Bujumbura.
The planned railway line will depart from Uvinza to Malagalazi, and will be 156 km length that is the first canal, the second will be 126km[from Malagalazi to Gitega]. It will moreover end up in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The SDG length will reach up to 282km. It is expected to run 120KPH for freight and 160KPH for passengers.
As of today, Tanzania remains the key-point of imports and exports of the country as it relies on Dar-Es-Salaam port. So far, 95 percent of Burundi’s supply transited via Tanzania whereas more than 476,000 tons of goods were recorded in 2020.
Recent data show that trade between Burundi and Tanzania increased from Tshs 83 billion in 2015 to more than Tshs 200 billion in 2019.
The effort comes in a series of other initiatives implemented by both governments manly the dry port inked in early September, 2021.