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Facilitating travel in Senegal's most populous and productive area: that’s the objective of the Dakar Regional Express Train (TER) project. On Wednesday, 21 June 2017, the African Development Bank (AfDB) decided to support the project through a US $ 192.8 million (CFAF 120 billion) loan.
This 36 km long railway line will connect the heart of the capital with the new and growing city of Diamniadio. Some 113,000 passengers are expected to borrow it every day by 2019.
In Dakar, 80% of the 13 million daily trips are made on foot due to lack of efficient and cheap public transport. Dakar and its suburbs nevertheless concentrate nearly a quarter of the population of Senegal and contribute to more than half of the national GDP. In this ever-expanding conurbation, the future regional express train will play an essential role, facilitating the daily life of the inhabitants, enabling them to travel smoothly to their work and access to the working areas, as well as to reduce traffic congestion on the road network.
"The project should unleash the growth potential of Dakar and its region," said Mohamed Ali Ismaël, transport economist at the AfDB, especially since it must be linked with other existing or future modes of transport, such as the Transit Rapid Transit (BRT) project, which will effectively serve the suburbs. "
The new TER will follow the "Petit Train de Banlieue" route, an aging line that is no longer able to meet the growing demand. In addition to installing new electrified tracks, the project includes the acquisition of around fifteen modern oars, the reconstruction of 11 stations and the renovation of the stations of Dakar and Rufisque, classified as historic monuments. Once the project is completed, the journey between these two stations should take only 45 minutes, compared to nearly two hours today.
The TER will also serve the Damniadio's digital technology park under construction, a project for which the Bank had contributed in 2015. The line is expected to be extended to the new Blaise Diagne International Airport - funded by the Bank in 2010 - through which several million passengers transit each year.
"With this project, the Bank is helping to change the face of the Dakar agglomeration by encouraging the adoption of efficient, non-polluting modes of transport that are accessible to as many people as possible. The project will help improve people's living conditions, but also industrialization, two pillars of the Bank's strategy, "said Amadou Oumarou, director of the Infrastructure, Cities and Urban Development Department at the AfDB.
In total, the Dakar TER has an envelope of US $ 914 million, which includes the respective contributions of the Islamic Development Bank, the French Development Agency, the French Treasury and the Senegalese government. In addition to the transport component, part of this amount will be used to reinforce the social infrastructures of the concerned municipalities: 15 sports centers, 10 women's activity centers and 10 "toddlers' huts" will be built and equipped. On the economic level, support will be provided to 20 youth associations and 30 women's associations, which will benefit from training programs and who will be handed over equipment for the processing of fishery products and fruit but for market gardening, handicrafts and sewing. The construction of seven markets is also budgeted, including a large modern market at Camp Thiaroye.
To face the rapid urbanization of the continent, the AfDB is allocating an increasing share of its funding to urban areas - US $ 500 million for urban transport in 2016.
In Senegal, the "Promoville" project, approved by the AfDB on 27 March 2017, follow also similar objectives than the regional express train: making African cities more livable, improving people's daily lives and making them competitive for private sector.