Government may have to acquire another loan to redo works on a 53km highway connecting Kigali to Nyamagabe district in southern Rwanda.
In 2017, government obtained loan financing of Rwf 29.8bn ($29.8m) from Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) and the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD).
The concessional loan is repayable in 30 years with 10 years grace period at an interest rate of one (1) per cent.
The money was to construct and refurbish Huye-Nyamagabe-Kitabi road (53km), Huye-Gisagara (13.8km) and a 2.8km portion heading to the Mirambi genocide memorial site.
Work on the main part, Huye-Nyamagabe, began October 2017. The Chinese firm, China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) got the contract. By March last year, the contractor handed the road to government.
However, by mid this year, signs of trouble were already emerging. By September, some sections were breaking up and sinking.
The highway links Kigali to Rusizi district bordering DR Congo, via the internationally acclaimed Nyungwe Forest National Park. The road runs from Kigali-Huye-Nyamagabe-Rusizi.
Yesterday, following days of heavy rain, the Police declared the highway “impassable” as some parts had been severely damaged by overflowing streams.
Travellers going to Nyungwe park have been advised to use the much longer Kigali-Karongi-Nyamasheke-Rusisi route. It is also a new road.
The same breakup on the Nyamagabe route happened on October 4. The road was closed for several days as repair works were done.
According to locals living along the road, they began having doubt over the life of this road due to the manner in which the refurbishment was being done.
The road was already tarmac, as it was built decades ago. But it needed a facelift. What the contractor did was lay a new layer on the existing road, which had problems such as sinking.
The small bridges designed decades ago were left intact. The new tarmac was laid over these old bridges. With irregular rainfall patterns, in recent years, the small streams passing through these bridges, have become bigger.
When it rains, the small vents under the bridges can no longer hold back the water, which has to flow into opposite valleys. So the flood water gushes over the road.
The cracks which appeared beginning September, were expected to grow bigger, thereby rendering it unusable.
As it appears, unless the small bridges are expanded, any repairs will not last, say engineers who spoke to us.
The government may have to get another financing scheme if it is to have a more long-lasting Nyamagabe road.