Tanzania embarked on the major Dar-Isaka-Kigali/Keza-Musongati Railway development to modernise the country’s rail sector and improve access to the hinterland. The scheme is in line with the long-term policy that all new railway developments would be to standard gauge specification, agreed on 14 years ago by the African Union and East African Community. It also supports the vision of opening a new East African rail route from Dar es Salaam to Rwanda and Burundi.
As part of the overall scheme, Zutari, in partnership with CPCS Transcom Ltd (CPCS), was awarded this project in 2018 to update the feasibility study and design the section between Isaka and Kigali. Zutari undertook the technical feasibility, which included alignment design, structural design, hydrology, and geotechnical, electrification and systems design, as well as the preparation of the capital expenditure (CAPEX) and tender documentation.
The ultimate client for the project was a joint technical committee (JTC) of the Tanzanian state-owned enterprise Reli Assets Holding Company, which is now the Tanzania Railways Corporation and the Rwanda Transport Development Agency that was established to develop, promote, and manage the corridor’s rail infrastructure assets.
The project team had to address various challenges, including managing the complexities of a regional project and a multi-national client, whilst navigating the internal processes of both national entities. Designing the rail alignment required the team to traverse East Africa’s Great Rift Valley, which presented a significant challenge in terms of engineering. The 485 km route traverses undulating to extremely steep mountainous terrain, particularly near Kigali.
Designing the rail alignment required the team to traverse East Africa’s Great Rift Valley, which presented a significant challenge in terms of engineering.
Using advanced design tools
Zutari employed new design methods and cutting-edge software technology to find practical and cost-saving solutions, and deliver the technical project on time. The project was one of the first projects to make use of Bentley’s OpenRail software.
The software, together with a focused digital plan, provided the tools the team needed to find technical solutions that would otherwise have taken the design team three times as long.
As with any new innovation, the software needed some adaptation to meet the needs of the challenging environment, but still proved to be a significant benefit during the design process.
A highly successful team effort
The team was successful in delivering a sound and optimised technical solution to the client that was executed within budget, and on time due to the major time saving the design software brought. The project management team kept abreast of the client’s needs and communications, while the agility of the technical design team to respond to changes and requests also played a major role in the success of the project.
“I am proud of the technical team, who, under trying conditions and new software applications, were able to come to the party and deliver beyond our client’s expectations,” commented Peter Ojumo, CPCS Project Manager.
“I am proud of the technical team, who, under trying conditions and new software applications, were able to come to the party and deliver beyond our client’s expectations.”
*The Aurecon Africa business has been officially renamed Zutari as at 21 July 2020. Zutari acquired Aurecon Middle East on 20 November 2020.