By Dias Nyesiga
With over 70 percent of Rwanda’s maritime cargo passing through Dar es Salaam port, Tanzania is hastily addressing the demands of Rwandan traders mainly restoring the old infrastructure along the Central corridor.
Although they are willing to use Tanzania’s Central corridor against the Kenya’s Northern corridor, Rwandan traders insisted there is need to rehabilitate roads along the central corridor which have been in existent for over the past 25 years.
“We are worried that if more traders use the corridor, it will impact pressure on the roads which may lead to their breakdown and this would mean delays along the way,” said Theodore Murenzi, secretary General of Rwanda Long distance truck drivers Association told KT Press.
As a result, the government has set aside over Tshs 30 billion in its current budget regime for the rehabilitation of road networks mainly in the central as well as a loan financing for revamping of its standard railway gauge.
“The road network in Tanzania is currently over loaded, but we are fixing breakages as we also look at standard railway gauge as a long term solution to the infrastructure problem,” said Lawrence Mafuru, Treasury Registrar of the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania.
Also, the Tanzania Ports Authority has also resumed the wagon railway system between Dar es Salaam to Isaka dry port which is expected to cut transport costs for Rwanda traders, as Eng Deusdedit Kakoko, Director general Tanzania Ports Authority says.
“This means that cargo will be transported from Dar es Salaam to Isaka by railway and Rwanda trucks pick it from there, which we believe will cut a big percentage on transport costs,” he said.
The Tanzania ports Authority that mans Dar es Salaam Port on behalf of government of Tanzania has early this month announced its opening its liaison office in Kigali in October which trade experts see as yet another move to woe Rwanda importers and exporter to use the Central Corridor.
Geographically, the port of Dar es Salaam is nearer to Kigali compared to Mombasa port in Kenya that serves the Northern Corridor. It takes 1500 kilometers from Dar es Salaam to Kigali compared to Northern Corridor’s over 2000 kilometer distance.
“Tanzania is a gate way to so many traders especially in countries that are land locked such as Rwanda,” said Jean Pierre Niyitegeka, Central African Liaison Officer, Tanzania International Container Terminal Services-TICTS.
With political will between the two government- Rwanda and Tanzania that saw removal of non tariff barriers, the construction of one stop border at Rusumo, the corridor is likely to be the gateway for the country’s imports and exports whose transport has been costing over 40 percent of the total cost of the goods.