Tanzania starts repairs on road linking to Rwanda

Africa News of Thursday, 5 March 2020

Source: newtimes.co.rw

File photo

The Tanzanian Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication is repairing a section of the Morogoro-Dodoma highway where a bridge collapsed due to heavy rains on Monday. The road links Rwanda to Dar es Salaam post, where about 90 per cent of goods destined for Rwanda come through. On Tuesday, heavy equipment was deployed at the site in an effort to quickly restore normal transport operations

The hitch has disrupted transport on the highway, largely affecting inland Tanzanian cargo and movement of goods and people to and from Rwanda and beyond. The alternative route of Iringa is 304km longer. The development came as unusually heavy rains continue to pound the region, destroying costly infrastructure as well as demolished homes and farmlands.

Speaking at the site, Eng Isack Kamwelwe, Tanzania’s Minister of Works, Transport and Communication, noted that they will install two large culverts, each three meters in diameter, so that a lot of water can go underneath without wrecking the bridge anymore. When the heavy rains subside, Kamwelwe noted, “we also intend to build a bigger bridge” so as to further enhance transport on the major highway. The road is the main route used for goods coming to Rwanda from Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam port.

The Rwandan High Commission in Tanzania confirmed to The New Times that it has been in touch with the Ministry of Works there on several occasions and noted that the Government there is “very committed to quickly” restoring the key transport link. Fred Seka, the president of the Federation of East Africa Freight Forwarders, told The New Times that delays to repair the road would cause business losses. Yusuf Rutayisire, a Rwandan heavy truck driver, was among the first people who got to the broken bridge on Monday and shared a short video as the bridge continued to be damaged by water.

On that afternoon, Rutayisire was enroute to Dar to collect a consignment of cement with his 32 tonne truck. He told The New Times that he was optimistic construction works will end soon and he will be able to carry on with his trip to Dar. Rutayisire said: “This is the third day I have been stranded here.

It crumbled when I was about 10 meters away, on my arrival, from Gairo. On Wednesday, several high-level government officials, including the Minister of Works and Transport, arrived on the scene to assess the situation. “Right now, a lot of work is being done.

They are pouring in rocks and soil after setting up two big culverts. I don’t think everything will end today (Wednesday) but looking at the effort being put in and how hard they worked on Tuesday, I see speed and it is promising.” Rutayisire could not readily tell how many vehicles were stranded on the other side but he estimated that there were more than 200 vehicles, including passenger service vehicles, on his side.

According to Seka, the impact could be felt by those who import goods through Dar port and those transiting goods through Rwanda, especially the DR Congo business community. According to the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA), customs officials handle 280 cargo trucks on the Central Corridor every day. Rain-triggered disasters, including flash floods and landslides, have affected many people across east Africa in recent weeks.

In Rwanda, heavy rains on Sunday and Monday killed at least five people and injured many others while infrastructure was also damaged. Last week, the Rwanda Meteorology Agency made “above normal” rainfall predictions for the next three months. Since last September, heavy rains have claimed dozens of lives, devastated property and jeopardised food security with out-of-chain food prices until now.

Experts have said that the current rains have been enhanced by a phenomenon called the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD). The phenomenon, also known as the Indian Nino, is an irregular oscillation of sea surface temperatures in which the western Indian Ocean becomes alternately warmer (positive phase) and then colder (negative phase) than the eastern part of the ocean. It is reported that, when positive, IOD can cause a rise in water temperatures in the Indian Ocean of up to 2C.

This leads to higher evaporation rates off the east African coastline and this water then falls inland.

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