ABIDJAN (Reuters) – Bollore has invested 30 million euros ($33.6 million) to buy trains for the freight and passenger line it operates between Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast, the French company said.
Landlocked Burkina Faso relies partly for its exports and imports on the ports of its southern neighbour Ivory Coast, the biggest economy in French-speaking West Africa. It also uses ports in other neighbours Ghana and Togo.
“We have invested around 30 million euros to acquire trains, including six received today,” Lionel Labarre, director of Bollore Africa Logistics, said on Wednesday.
“We are still waiting for nine locomotives that will add to the 20 that are already in service,” he said, adding that Bollore would also develop the station in Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s main city.
Trains take about 36-hours to do the 1,260-km (787-mile) journey between Abidjan and Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou, and carriages are often packed with people, trade goods and animals being carried to market.
Bilateral trade between Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast hit 290 billion CFA francs ($495 million) in 2014, up from 165 billion in 2011, Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan said at a ceremony to mark the arrival of the six new engines.
Most of the trade runs via rail and road links. Cargo traffic between the two countries stood at 610,000 tonnes last year, up from 402,000 tonnes in 2011, Duncan said.
Developing the rail line is a strategic priority for Ivory Coast and a tool for regional integration, said Duncan, adding that the country was aiming for 2 million passengers a year in the next few years up from 300,000 now.
Bollore has operated the Ivory Coast-Burkina Faso railway since 1995 and has recently been awarded a concession for a rail link between Niger, Benin and Togo.