BUJUMBURA January 21st (ABP) – Members of the lower house of parliament gathered in plenary session on Wednesday January 19, 2022, at the Kigobe hemicycle, analyzed and unanimously adopted by the votes cast, the bill on rail transport code in Burundi, a check on the site by ABP has revealed.
In his explanatory memorandum, the Minister of Trade, Transport, Industry and Tourism, Mrs. Marie Chantal Nijimbere, pointed out that strategic orientation No. 1 of the National Development Program (PND 2018-2027) aimed at revitalization of growth sectors, recommends, in its No. 2 axis, the development of transport infrastructure in order to open up and connect Burundi to neighboring countries by rail.
To achieve that objective, the country must put in place a legal, institutional and operational framework in perfect harmony with the national and regional imperatives of rail transport, underlined the Minister having Transport in his attributions, before the elected representatives of the people.
Following the richness of the Burundian subsoil, several mining companies are interested in exploiting the country’s mineral deposits but they come up against challenges related to the transport of these mining products to international markets, hence the need to implement that large-scale project, which will bring a macro-economic benefit to the country, Mrs. Nijimbere said.
Minister Nijimbere did not forget to reassure the people’s elected representatives that the countries concerned by the said project, namely Burundi, the United Republic of Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo, have already made commitments with a view to building the Uvinza-Musongati-Gitega-Bujumbura-Uvira-Kindu railway line which will connect the three countries.
During the session of questions for clarification addressed to that representative of the government on January 12, 2022, the deputies who are members of the standing committee of the National Assembly in charge of Justice and Human Rights wanted to know whether the government has provided a sufficient compensation fund, in order to avoid possible frustrations of the population who will be affected by the expropriation.
They asked that question on the basis of article 4 of this draft law, paragraph 2, which provides that when the railway network extends over the private domain of individuals, expropriation is carried out on the grounds of public utility in accordance with the legislation in force on the subject.
Responding to that question, Minister Nijimbere said that the feasibility studies, the final version of which was sent to him, provide for an amount of compensation estimated at 757,392 US dollars for the expropriation of the population on the Uvinza-Musongati line. She said that this amount is part of the overall project budget that the government is mobilizing.
The financial package of the project already adopted by the Council of Ministers recommends the start of fundraising from the 2022-2023 financial year and this will continue until the end of the project (June 2022-July 2026). The expropriation could begin next year if the schedule of activities will be approved by the meeting of ministers of the two countries, namely Burundi and Tanzania, explained Mrs. Nijimbere.
Some elected representatives of the people welcomed the development of that project while the other honorable ones expressed their concerns about the sources of funding for the feasibility of the project. They also wanted to know if the acquisition of the railway in Burundi will not have the negative impact on other projects such as the construction of hydroelectric dams, etc.
Minister Nijimbere reassured them by pointing out that the start-up budget is available and that the total amount of the project is estimated at 961 million US dollars, of which 21.8% will come from internal mobilization (the State, the population), 49.9% from request/reallocation of grants and 28.3% from loans.
She clarified that this is the draft law on the rail transport code in Burundi, which will be retouched or amended whenever necessary. “Each country will keep its sovereignty even if the countries concerned by the said project do not speak the same language and do not use the same currency”, replied Mrs. Nijimbere to the question of a deputy.