Construction of the $4.7 billion railway line linking Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania will begin in 2014, after the three governments finalise fund-raising activities.
Tanzania and Uganda have also reached consensus that the proposed joint commercial rail track running from Tanga-Arusha-Musoma to Kampala, will not cut through the Serengeti National Park, thus ending a long-standing row between the two countries.
“Rest assured that the railway line will be constructed 100km south of the Serengeti National Park border and will thus not interfere with the ecosystem,” said Omari Nundu, Minister for Transport.
The Tanzania-Rwanda-Burundi line will boost economic and social development through regional co-operation.
Mr Nundu, said the design, engineering studies and development of financial, legal, institutional and regulatory frameworks have been completed.
Feasibility studies were completed in June 2009.
“Eventually, we hope to develop a railway system that connects the agricultural, mining and industrial hubs of the three countries to the port of Dar-es- salaam,” he said.
According to Mr Nundu, the railway line will also reduce non-tariff barriers to trade particularly transport costs and delays caused by road transport.
He said the Tanga and Musoma ports will be dedicated to cargo traffic destined for Uganda and South Sudan.
Frankfurt Zoological Society applauded the two countries for demonstrating they were concerned about the Serengeti ecosystem.
“We are happy the cross border railway line will pass through the densely populated areas to the south of the Serengeti where the commercial potential is greater, instead of the ecological fragile areas in the north,” said Dr Markus Borner, the Africa director of the Frankfurt Zoological Society.
Dr Borner said there is now a solid development model that gives maximum support to the economic growth of the region without endangering the migration of nearly two million animals in the world-renowned national Park.
A fortnight ago, Tanzania and Uganda signed an agreement with China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation for the Tanga-Arusha-Musoma railway project.
Under the multi-million-dollar project, the CCEC has been commissioned to conduct a feasibility study and implementation of the project.
Managing director of CCEC, Wang Xiangdong, said feasibility studies will be completed by April 2012.
The project worth $3 billion will include the construction of some 880km railway line, the Mwambani port in Tanga, Musoma dock and another at Port Bell in Uganda. The project is expected to be completed by 2015.
Freight will be conveyed from Musoma dock by ferry to Port Bell pier in Uganda — about 350km.
A rail connection will also run via Tororo to Gulu – nearly 600km. Another line roughly 250km, will also be constructed to Juba, and a further 550km to the Wåo railhead in South Sudan.