Rwanda and Tanzania have agreed to expedite the process to implement the Isaka-Kigali Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project, a cross-border railway link connecting the two countries.

Rwandan Minister of Infrastructure Claver Gatete met with Tanzanian counterpart Isack Kamwelwe to discuss and devise a plan to implement the cross-border railway project.

The meeting follows a discussion between the senior officials and technocrats of the two countries held last week to chalk out the remaining details of the project, Xinhua reported.

The two countries also agreed to continue discussions over the financing options to implement the rail link and its subsequent mode of operations.

Kamwelwe was quoted by the news agency as saying: “We are committed to strengthen our collaboration and ensure that the Isaka-Kigali railway project becomes a reality in shortest possible time.”

“The cross-border railway project will enable landlocked Rwanda to access the Dar es Salaam port in Tanzania.”

The 400km-long SGR project will connect Tanzania’s Isaka to Kigali in Rwanda. It is expected to provide improved railway connectivity and reduce freight transportation costs in the East Africa region.

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The cross-border railway project will enable landlocked Rwanda to access the Dar es Salaam port in Tanzania. It will support the transfer of goods from Dar es Salaam port to Burundi and Congo.

According to initial studies, the project is estimated to cost $2.5bn.

Tanzania is expected to raise $1.3bn for the project, while Rwanda will bear the remaining $1.2bn costs.

Kamwelwe added that they are considering various funding options for the project including from the African Development Bank (AfDB).

The Isaka-Kigali SGR project was launched by the two governments in January.