Tanzania is inviting bids for the construction of the 367km Uvinza-Gitega line that will extend the Standard Gauge Railway to Burundi.
In an August 12 notice, interested parties have until November 15 to place their bids with the Tanzania Railways Corporation, to design and build the line from Uvinza in western Tanzania to Burundi’s administrative capital of Gitega.
The TRC said funds have already been set aside by both governments for the bilateral project to take off within the 2022/2023 financial year.
“It is intended that part of the proceeds of the funds will be used to cover eligible payments for contracts under the D&B [Design and Build] arrangement,” TRC said in the notice.
The project will involve 282km of the main line and 85km of siding/passing loops. Lot 1 will cover 180km from Uvinza to Malagarasi within Tanzania, and Lot 2 will cover 187km across the border to Musongati and then Gitega.
The project has been in the pipeline since January, when the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on initial cost estimates of $900 million.
The notice said that although the Uvinza-Gitega link project will be supervised jointly with ARTF in Burundi, the TRC will be in charge of all related procurements on behalf of both governments.
The line will be an extension of Tanzania’s ongoing $7.6 billion SGR project, providing Burundi with a link to the port of Dar es Salaam through the central corridor.
The line is expected to significantly lessen the costs of transporting Burundian goods.
Both countries are set to also benefit from increased cross-border trade via the railway line, and cargo volumes through the port of Dar es Salaam will be boosted.
Negotiations for similar SGR links with Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo are ongoing.
At the signing of the agreement, Burundi’s Minister for Works and Infrastructure Deogratius Nsanganiyumwami said the link would allow the country to increase its cargo export volumes through Dar es Salaam to at least three million tonnes of minerals and one million tonnes of other cargo annually.
Burundi currently ships 99.2 percent of its international cargo through the port of Dar es Salaam, and Rwanda ships 86 percent, according to Tanzania Ports Authority figures.
Tanzania’s 1,637km SGR line is being built in phases by contractors from Turkey and China. The first phase from Dar es Salaam to Morogoro (300km) is set to start operating next year following successful test runs.