The President of the Republic of Senegal, Macky Sall, presided over the inauguration of a new $1.3 billion Regional Express Train (TER) on Monday, December 27.
The TER meant to ease traffic gridlock and modernise a crumbling public transport system.
The 45-minute ride with built-in Wi-Fi will cost nearly $3 in a country where half the population lives in poverty, though shorter trips will be cheaper.
About 115,000 passengers are expected to commute daily on the train between Dakar and Diamniadio, the government said. Further extensions will connect the main airport and eventually other cities and towns in the coming years.
The ceremony took place in the city of Diamniadio which polarizes a new urban center. This inauguration marks the culmination of one of the largest projects of the first phase of the Emerging Senegal Plan, of which the African Development Bank is a major partner.
The first new railway since independence from France in 1960 is a cornerstone of President Macky Sall’s Senegal Emergent plan, which includes a new airport, roads, sports arenas and a sleek conference centre.
In front of an audience of political and public figures, members of civil society, diplomatic representatives, technical and financial partners, the Senegalese Head of State welcomed the putting into circulation of the Regional Express Train, which constitutes ” a revolution in the development of the public and urban transport sector. Senegal is opening a new era in its modern railway history, with the start of commercial operation of the TER, five years after the start of its works “. President Sall notably underlined one of the challenges of this flagship project of Senegal, the objective of which is “to contribute to the restructuring of the urban transport system to promote economic development, the redevelopment and rebalancing of urban space in the Senegalese capital. ”
The first phase of the Regional Express Train is co-financed by the African Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, the French Development Agency, the French Treasury and the State of Senegal, at a total cost of CFAF 780 billion. It aims to improve the conditions of mobility in the agglomeration of Dakar. The project also aims to take into account the service needs induced by the new Blaise Diagne international airport, the animation of the urban center of Diamniadio, and the establishment of industrial zones, by enhancing their attractiveness.
Air-conditioned trains are expected to reduce pollution in Dakar, where banged-up old buses and taxis hurl clouds of black smoke as they inch towards the capital each morning