Kagame: building his railway to Dar?
By David Himbara
I have borrowed the term “The Lunatic Express” from Charles Miller. His humorous book is about the building of the Mombasa-Nairobi-Lake Victoria Railway — the massive British undertaking. In his book, The Lunatic Express, Miller provides details of all sorts of problems the project suffered from:
derailments, collisions, disease, tribal raids and the assaults of wild animals. The British managed to complete the railway at a considerable cost — said to be more than £5,000,000.
Kagame, too, has been dreaming about building his own lunatic express from Kigali to Dar Es Salaam. Here is timelines of Kagame’s lunatic express.
- 1998: The authorities of Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi expressed an interest in building a railroad to Dar Es Salaam via Isaka that is already connected.
- 2003: The three countries reaffirmed need for a new Isaka-Kigali/Keza-Musongati railway line.
- 2006: Kagame recruits an American railway operator and builder,Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) to build the Kigali to Isaka railway.
- 2008: Kagame announces that the building of his lunatic railway will soon commence.
- 2008: US Trade Development Agency provides a grant to support preliminary work performed by BNSF.
- 2009: Stakeholders meet in Kigali to endorse the lunatic express.
- 2010: Kagame forgets his lunatic express — goes into violent elections.
- 2012: Kikwete and his South African counterpart destroy Kagame’s M23 in DRC.
- 2013: Kagame announces he will hit Kikwete at an opportune moment.
- 2014: Kagame, Museveni, and Kenya create the coalition of the willing — announce Kigali-Kampala-Nairobi-Mombasa railway.
- 2016: Coalition of the willing dead. Kagame is dumped by Uganda and Kenya.
- 2016: Kagame remembers his lunatic express — Rwanda, Tanzania, and Burundi become friends again.
But there is one problem. How will Burundi’s Nkurunziza and Rwanda’s Kagame build a railway, while the latter is sponsoring a militia to remove the former?
So, will Kagame get his lunatic express? I don’t think so — he has to finish Kigali Convention Centre, Bugesera International Airport, and hopefully build a sewage system — not to mention his war in Burundi.