THE RWANDA government is seeking Chinese assistance with construction of a 400 km rail link from Kigali to Isaka in Tanzania. Rwandan Ambassador to Tanzania, Zephyr Mutanguha, said last month that the government was confident of finding donors to fund the line.

Import and export traffic for Rwanda is currently transhipped to road at Isaka dry port, on TRC’s metre-gauge line to Mwanza. Much of it moves in containers through the port of Dar-es-Salaam, which was handed over to a private operator on September 10. Tanzania International Container Terminal Services is 70% owned by Manila’s International Container Terminal company and 30% by Tanzanian Harbour Investments, a subsidiary of Vertex Financial Services.

Meanwhile, Rwandan traffic moving via Uganda will benefit from a European Union grant of US$4·5m to help upgrade the 251 route-km between Kampala and Malaba on the Kenyan border. Uganda Railways Corp Managing Director David Murungi expects repairs to get under way next year on the Nile bridge at Jinja and another 12m span at Naigombwa. He says US$35m will be needed to restore the line, where speeds are currently restricted to 25 km/h.

H Zambian Minister for Commerce, Trade & Industry William Harrington is also keen to attract Chinese assistance for railway rehabilitation, including work on Tazara. He hoped to negotiate a deal during the China-Africa Co-operation Forum in Beijing last month.