Tripartite railway line plans (DRC, Burundi and Tanzania) gain momentum


The Ministers of transport of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi and Tanzania have approved on 12 June 2022 the report of the steering committee on the construction of a high speed electrified Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) that will connect three countries from Uvinza, in Tanzania, to Kindu, in Eastern DRC, through the cities of Musongati, Gitega, Bujumbura and Uvira, with trains that will travel up to a speed of 160 km/h (for passenger transport) and 120km/h (for cargo). Tanzania, Burundi and DRC already signed an MoU on the implementation of the project end of January 2020 which was recently revised on Mar 7, 2022.

The Tripartite railway project has a highly strategic importance for DRC, Burundi and Tanzania because it will facilitate the transport of heavy minerals such as nickel, a commodity of which the three countries are rich and whose prices are continually soaring on the international markets, due to its increasing demand by the automotive sector for the manufacture of batteries for electric vehicles. Indeed, railway transport remains the most economically efficient solution for transportation of heavy and bulky goods over long distances.

The railway is also expected to better integrate the three economies giving them access in future to the port of Dar-es-Salam in Tanzania, once connection works between Uvinza, the starting point of the tripartite railway, and the main Tanzanian seaport will be completed. Currently, an electrified SGR is already connecting Dar-es-Salam to Makutupora, 300 kilometers from Uvinza. Once the missing link will be completed, this project will trigger a fierce competition between the Northern and Central Transport Corridors, as the latter will fully integrate the railway transport with the other transport modes already available in the region (road, air, waterways), so offering the possibility to develop multimodal solutions capable of reducing freight costs.

The Tripartite ministerial meeting was preceded on Saturday, June 11, 2022 by a meeting of the Tripartite Steering Committee composed of the permanent secretaries of the 3 countries in charge of transport, during which the report submitted by the technical committee of experts was validated before its official presentation to the Ministers.