Railway Group Tasks new Senegalese President on Dakar-Bamako Railway

A railway advocacy group, African Railway Roundtable has called on the new Senegalese President, Bashirou Faye to revive the Dakar-Bamako railway project to strengthen economic connectivity of the region.

In a letter sent to the new President signed by the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the railway promotion group, Mr Olawale Rasheed, the new leader was reminded of the urgent need to revive and complete the rail project which it said will strengthen Senegal and support economic revival of Mali and other Sahel states.

The group made reference to the trans-sahelian railway project which was to run across the Sahelian states and urged the new leader in Senegal to actively get involved in the railway revitalization plan as a way of boosting economic recovery of the West African sub-region.

Mali and Senegal had signed an agreement with China Railway Construction Corporation to renovate a rail line linking its capital Bamako to the border with neighboring Senegal. The rail will cost nearly $2 billion.

The project is part of a plan to upgrade the aging railway between Senegal’s coastal capital Dakar and landlocked Mali. China Railway Construction also penned a similar agreement worth $1.26 billion with Senegal.

According to former President Macky Sall, the project is ‘urgent and essential’ for the emergence by 2035”.

Throughout his two term tenure , Sall however failed to push through. Instead, he implemented only the.region rail service linking the airport to the city center.

“We call on the new President to make a matter of priority to revive the rail connection between Mali and Senegal.

“We indeed appeal to him to champion the Trans-Sahelian railway project. The drawing and certain studies were already done.

“The military leadership in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger will gladly key into the matter. Senegal stands to benefit as well as the people of the Sahel region.

The group quoted an earlier report which confirmed that the international Dakar-Bamako train stopped running in 2009 even though trains still run within Mali between Kayes & Bamako and in Senegal a local service running for 22 miles out of Dakar started in September 2019.

For the record, way back in 2003 trains stopped running because of the condition of the track, much of which was still the original rails laid in 1904 to 1912. Operation of the railway was handed to a Canadian company which started working to improve things. In 2005, a weekly express was reinstated from Dakar to Bamako and back, which in 2007 was reduced to running every 8-9 days due to yet more engineering work on the line, and to not set schedule. This continued until summer 2009.

At this stage, the train was starting from the Gare de Hann, 3km out of Dakar, and not from Dakar station itself. In summer 2009, all train service from Dakar stopped running again, and that remains the current status. It’s reported that the operator for all intents and purposes went bankrupt.

Kehinde Olusegun

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