Kenya’s chance of extending the SGR to other countries in Eastern and Central Africa was dealt a major blow, after Tanzania’s President John Pombe Magufuli reached out to leaders from other countries in the region, for a deal to extend his country's SGR to their nations.
According to a report by Xinhua, Tanzania's Transport Minister Isaack Kamwelwe, met other leaders from neighbouring Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo on December 3, where they settled on a deal to have the modern railway extended to the two countries. Rwanda is also reported to be a party to the agreement.
In the deal, Tanzania is expected to serve Burundi which is a landlocked country and DRC, which has a coastline of only 40 kilometres on the Atlantic Ocean, therefore lacking the ability to construct a feasible port that would ease transport.
Kenya was hoping to use its own SGR to benefit from the transport of cargo to the neighbouring countries that don't have a port.
The agreement has also been strengthened by an earlier announcement by President Magufuli on November 27, that Rwanda had also agreed to be part of the project.
"In principle, Rwandan President Paul Kagame has agreed to jointly implement the project," Magufuli spoke.
According to Tanzania's Minister Kamwelwe, a feasibility study is ongoing being conducted by HP Gulf of Germany for the grand railway project and will be completed at the end of January 2020.
In June 2019, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi, while on a visit at Dar es Salaam, indicated that the extension of the SGR to Rubavu would open up trade opportunities for the country which entirely depends on the ports of Dar es Salaam and Mombasa for imports and exports.
Tanzania could edge out Kenya for goods headed to the three countries.
Kenya hasn’t been able to complete the SGR line from Nairobi to Malaba, recently reaching Suswa at the completion of phase 2A of the project.
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