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Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi in Rail Deal
The three States involved in a multi-national railway project last Friday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at developing the project.

The countries involved in the project expected to kick off soon are Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania and the MoU was signed by ministers in charge of Infrastructure of the three countries.

The railway network will commence from Isaka, Tanzania to Kigali and from Tanzania through Keza and Gitega before finally reaching Musongati in Burundi.

The MoU was signed at the closure of the five-day 6th Meeting of the Sectoral Council on Transport, Communications and Meteorology (TCM), in Arusha, Tanzania.

Linda Bihire, Rwanda's Minister of Infrastructure chaired the meeting and signed on behalf of Rwanda while Infrastructure Ministers of Tanzania and Burundi, Shukuru Jumanne Kawambwa and Philippe Njoni, respectively represented their countries.

Othieno Ocheng, from the Directorate of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs of the East African Community (EAC said), in a statement that the move commits the three EAC countries towards supporting the development and implementation of the above railway network.

Though the actual cost of the project is yet to be determined, the three governments will, according to the MoU, collectively deal with issues pertaining to the development of the new regional railway line and its link to the Central Corridor Railway network that connects to the Port of Dar es Salaam.

Julius Tangus Rotich, the EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Finance and Administration, pointed out the necessity of transport in the regional integration process.

"The transport policy development has been entrenched in the Common Market Protocol which is under negotiation. This is an indicator of the central role transport plays in the EAC regional integration process," Rotich is quoted as saying.

He further assured delegates that tangible progress had been made particularly in the Roads and Civil Aviation sub-sectors.

He singled out the major achievement of the Arusha - Namanga - Athi River Road construction which he said was a tangible development of the various regional projects.

However, the EAC Deputy Secretary General further highlighted challenges that still faced the sector both at technical and administrative levels.

These include the slow ratification of protocols and lack of funds for projects and programmes among others.

To counteract these problems, the three governments agreed to establish a Joint Technical Monitoring Committee (JTMC) responsible for monitoring and managing the technical aspects of the railway project.

Rwanda was chosen to be the overall Project Coordination Unit.

Under the different positions, each Partner State is expected to facilitate the creation of the route for the Railway line within their territories, initiate and facilitate technical studies, including mobilisation of funds towards the necessary study for the implementation of the project and guarantee financial commitment.

This will be based on the equity share, in the case a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model which was adopted for the development of the railway line.

The railway development comes after member states of COMESA, SADC and EAC achieved the highest level of cooperation, by holding the first ever tripartite summit of the three Regional Economic Communities (RECs) last year in Kampala, Uganda.