By: James Karuhanga
The Dar es Salaam-Isaka-Kigali/Keza-Musongati (DIKKM) standard gauge railway (SGR) project is progressing well, an official said.
Eng. Jules Ndenga, the acting special project implementation unit coordinator at the Ministry of Infrastructure, said this following a recent joint technical monitoring committee meeting in Arusha, Tanzania.
“Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda are continuing the joint development of the DIKKM railway project. The recent meeting in Arusha was a joint technical meeting aimed at extending the contract for the transaction advisory services that had expired on December 31, 2015,” Eng. Ndenga told The New Times last week from Kampala, Uganda.
The extension of services being processed will end this month.
The Arusha meeting, which was attended by officials from various entities, including finance, environment and land departments from the three countries agreed on the contract terms and conditions and the Rwanda Transport Development Agency (RTDA), will procure it on behalf of the three countries.
“The consultant will develop the request for proposals document to be issued for the recruitment of a public-private partner. There is no major challenge to report as all the pending issues were addressed by the inter-ministerial meeting held in Mwanza in February.”
The February 13 meeting was attended by ministers of transport from the three countries and other officials.
A joint communiqué issued after the meeting indicates that the ministers reaffirmed their full commitment to further deepen and broaden the relationship for the mutual benefit of the three countries and their citizens.
“The ministers commended the prevailing commitment among the three partner states to realise the implementation of the railway project and its importance to foster physical integration of transport modes, economic growth and improved social services in the sub region,” reads part of the statement.
The Mwanza meeting also agreed, among others, that since the African Development Bank (AfDB) support had elapsed, the three partner states would share equally the cost of remaining activities of the transaction advisor.
The cost estimate of the remaining activities is $300,000.
It was also agreed that for the Dar-Isaka section, the alignment design would be carried out in order to establish the alignment parallel to the existing metre gauge railway line and the estimated costs.
The cost for consultancy services amounting to “around”$ 290,000, it was agreed, will be borne by Tanzania.
The RTDA has been working on modalities of renewing the contract for transaction advisory services, before proceeding with issuance of request for proposals, or invitation for bids.
“The good news is the revived commitment of the partner states to fast track the implementation of this project,” Eng. Ndenga added.
For the request for proposal for procurement of the public-private partner, he said, they are looking at July.
The end of the procurement and start of construction, he added, would depend on the outcome of the submitted proposals – “tentatively in the second quarter of 2017.”
As regards the procurement process, requesting for the expression of interest was done last year, followed by the selection of bidders – 13 companies were selected – also followed by the request for proposals.
Negotiations with the best bidder will eventually follow once the basics are concluded.
The shortlist for a PPP contract to develop and implement the proposed 1,672-kilometre railway linking Dar es Salaam in Tanzania with Kigali in Rwanda and Musongati in Burundi went public on November 17, 2015.
The RTDA is leading procurement on behalf of the three countries.
Close to 172 kilometres of the route would be in Burundi and 123 kilometres in Rwanda. There would be 407 kilometres of new alignment in Tanzania from Keza to Isaka, and 970 kilometres paralleling the existing metre-gauge line between Isaka and Dar es Salaam.
This mixed-traffic DIKKM railway will be built to 1,435mm gauge, in line with EAC and African Union policies for new lines in the region, and would be suitable for 2,000 m long freight trains with 32.4 tonne axle loads.
According to the Ministry of EAC Affairs, the pre-set time-frame was to begin construction by end 2016 and end in 2020, but this will change depending on procurement bureaucracies and funds’ availability.
The estimated cost of standard gauge railway project is $5.2 billion