After a stiff a bidding process, a German consulting firm, Gauff Ingenieure, was awarded the contract that will see the electronic railway line linked from Bihanga in western Uganda to Kagitumba and Kigali.
State Minister for Transport John Byabagambi called on the consultants to work diligently so that their services are completed in 12 months.
“The improved railway services will invariably occasion a drastic freight model shift from road to rail,” Byabagambi said after signing a consultancy services contract for the preliminary engineering design in Kampala yesterday.
The 1,824-mile (2,935km) line is one of several big infrastructure projects on the continent, reflecting renewed global interest among policymakers after years of focusing on health and education.
Most traders depend on trucks for ferrying their goods, which presents challenges, especially with the trade barriers such as roadblocks, axle load bridges, corruption as well as delays at borders in clearing processes.
“This is another demonstration of the strong commitment of our leaders to carrying out joint regional integration projects aimed at easing trade in the region,” Guy Kalisa, the director-general of Rwanda Transport Development Agency told NewTimes of Rwanda.
Funding has been secured from China for the $3.7bn Mombasa-Nairobi section, a distance of 500km, and construction is due to begin in November.
The existing railway between Mombasa and Kampala dates to the colonial era, and has a small gauge. The new line will have a standard gauge, which is wider, and therefore faster and capable of carrying heavier loads. Rwanda will build its section from scratch as there is no existing line.