By Arnold Kwizera
Rwanda will not meet its target of having 2040 kilometers of paved roads by 2017, a report by Infrastructure Ministry indicate.
Under the country’s 2nd phase of its ambitious Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS2), government had planned to at least have the above kilometers of paved roads by next year, but Infrastructure Ministry says only 1,997.3 Km will be constructed.
Despite a shortfall, however, experts say, it is a good sign for optimism. “The government set out what many saw as ambitious targets but they will have achieved 80% of this by the end of 2017, giving them an extra year to achieve the remainder,” said Paul Musinguzi an engineer in a local construction company.
According to officials from the ministry, 104km of unpaved roads will be upgraded to paved roads while 490.31km of feeder roads will be added to the existing 1507km, thus a total of 1,997.31km by the end of the current financial year.
Previously President Paul Kagame signified the importance of infrastructure development as one of the key pillars if Rwanda is to achieve middle income status by 2020.
This commitment has seen the government invest almost a tenth of the country’s Rwf1, 949.4 trillion budget towards the sector that is expected to boost private sector growth in the long run.
“For a landlocked country like Rwanda, investment in an expansive road and transport network is crucial as this eases mobility for traders and attracts growth of the sector and economy at large,” said Juliet Uwizeye an economics expert from BPR Atlas Mara.
Recent statistics from doing business report indicate that Rwanda jumped from 157th to 87th in sustained trade development over the past year-a move attributed to the improved road networks that have lessened transport hindrances.
In a bid to ease this further, the construction of three more one stop Border posts are under construction at Gatuna border post between Rwanda and Uganda, Rubavu in Western Rwanda and Cyanika in Northern Province. The border posts are expected to be operational by the end of the current fiscal year.