Studies done by member states in the six-nation East African Community showed that the Tanzanian option would cost about US$800 million to US$900 million, Gatete said in an interview last Thursday at the World Economic Forum on Africa in the capital, Kigali. The Kenyan project would cost US$1 billion, he said.
“We are working on the Dar es Salaam one, which will be cheaper because it’s the shortest route,” Gatete said.
Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda in 2013 agreed to link up to the Kenyan port of Mombasa along a standard-gauge railway estimated to cost US$13 billion. The project was scheduled to be completed by March 2018.
The regional press reported on May 3 that Rwanda was in talks with Tanzania and Burundi about a shared route through their countries instead, because Uganda’s plans to develop a link to its northern neighbour South Sudan would delay the Rwandan portion of the project.
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Last month, Tanzanian President John Magufuli secured an agreement to have a pipeline in western Uganda routed to its port of Tanga. That scuppered an accord between Kenya and Uganda in October 2015 for the conduit to pass through northern Kenya to a proposed port at Lamu.
The railway route via Tanzania will link Kigali to a port in Tanzania’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, according to the project’s website.
A new railway is being built from Isaka in north-western Tanzania to Kigali, with a branch to Musongati in neighbouring Burundi. The existing railway from Dar es Salaam to Isaka is being upgraded.
Gatete said Rwanda planned to continue using ports in both Tanzania and Kenya. “Our trade goes through Dar es Salaam and Mombasa,” he said. “We will need both of them.”