BURUNDI and Tanzania have every reason to smile, as the African Development Fund has approved US$322m for a road upgrading project in a move aimed at strengthening East African Community (EAC) integration.

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group has approved US$322.35m loans and grants to Burundi and Tanzania to finance the Rumonge-Gitaza (45 kilometres) and Kabingo- Kasulu-Manyovu (260 kilometres) road upgrading project.

The project will see integration and trade in the EAC, particularly between Tanzania and Burundi, improved through cross-border transport and is part of the East African roads network linking the Port of Dar es Salaam to regional markets in Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

AfDB Communication Officer Ms Sonia Borrini, said the project projected to be completed in 2023, comprises various phases, including the upgrading from gravel to bitumen standard of the Kabingo-section in Tanzania and rehabilitation of Rumonge – Gitaza (45 km) paved road section in Burundi.

She said that it also involved the construction and operationalisation of a One Stop Border Post between Tanzania and Burundi at Manyovu/ Mugina border; Rural/Urban roads rehabilitation, health centres and schools construction, community water sources, and road safety, institutional support and capacity building of actors involved, including compensation and resettlement of people affected by the project.

The project aligns with the national development plans of both Burundi and Tanzania, particularly the respective sectoral policies on transport in both countries.

Upon completion, the multinational road will help open up rural areas, reduce vehicle operating costs, and enhance road safety. In addition, it will improve access to socio- economic and health infrastructure located along roads, particularly in Burundi’s Rumonge province and Tanzania’s Kigoma Region.

The improved transport will bring additional benefits for the two neighbouring countries, including empowering women and youth for whom new market centres will be opened and other economic activities will increase,” said Gabriel Negatu.

Director General of the Bank Group’s East Africa Regional Development & Business Delivery Office.

The project is in line with the objectives of the Bank’s 10-year Strategy (2013 – 2022) that focuses on assisting its regional member countries achieve more inclusive and greener growth via the Bank’s High5 priorities, including integrating Africa and improving the lives of the people of Africa.

The project is also consistent with the bank’s Country Strategy Papers for both countries, which have infrastructure development as an important pillar.

Likewise, the project is one of the priorities in the bank’s East African Regional Integration Strategy Paper (2018-2022). Complementary components to benefit local communities along the Project road in addition to the main roads upgrading works were appreciated by board members who encouraged packaging such integrated projects.

SOURCE: TradeMark East Africa.