$900bn needed to modernise, expand East African railways

(Engineering News) The East African Community (EAC) requires a staggering $900-billion to transform and modernise its railway network, which is critical to making the region attractive to foreign investors and to deepening integration.

The recently finalised East African Railway Master Plan shows that the EAC member countries of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi must invest $900-billion in their railway networks to realise the dreams of enhanced integration and quicken the pace of economic growth in the region.

The envisaged work will include the devel- opment of standard-gauge railway lines between Kampala, in Uganda, and Mombasa, in Kenya, as well as from Dar es Salaam, in Tanzania, to Kigali and Bujumbura. Feeder lines connecting local towns and the region’s major cities will also need to be built.

The plan, which was prepared by Canadian consultancy CPCS Transcom and is to be tabled at a heads of State summit in December, outlines measures to revamp the railways system in the short, medium and long term and how the revitalised railways system would boost trade, tourism, transport, production, investment and development.

The plan borrows heavily from South African railway network Transnet and the Indian railway system.

The EAC, which has a combined population of 130-million people, is among the fastest-growing regions in Africa. Since 1999, when the EAC was re-established after it had collapsed in 1977, the combined gross domestic product has increase from $20-billion to $78-billion last year.

Despite the significant growth, the region continues to rely on old and dilapidated railways networks, forcing the region to rely mainly on road transportation.

Both Kenya and Uganda have concessioned the managing and running of the century-old railway line from Mombasa to Kampala to Rift Valley Railways but the company has been unable to revive the operations.

In Tanzania, government took full control of Tanzania Railways after operating concessionaire RITES of India failed to improve services.

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