GULU WELCOMES FIRST TRAIN IN NEARLY 20 YEARS
(Posted 17th September 2013)
Recently it was reported here that Rift Valley Railways has been quietly restoring sections of the 500 kilometre long railway line which branches off in Tororo towards Gulu and Pakwach and was expecting to restore cargo services to and from Gulu, to serve both Northern Uganda and Southern Sudan which can now receive and ship cargo via rail from Gulu to the port of Mombasa. Yesterday did the first goods train in fact reach Northern Uganda’s main municipality to a rousing welcome from locals, excited to see – for many the first time in their lives – a train rolling into Gulu Station and bearing a large banner put up on a container, announcing the occasion. The first cargo train carried a consignment of steel destined for South Sudan, which will be transshipped to Juba by road, substantially shortening the distance the trucks will have to cover now and significantly reducing the transport cost element for importers and exporters.
RVR has also at the same time announced that train service to Pakwach will commence shortly too, offering a similar service to the business community in the West Nile region of Uganda and on to Eastern Congo, which has for long been relying entirely on road transport from the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa.
RVR invested over 2 million US Dollars in recent months in the restoration of culverts, rail bridges and sections of the railway which over the years was extensively vandalized as a result of lack of protection by security organs for these vital installations.
The opening of the Tororo – Gulu – Pakwach line further adds to the improved compliance with the terms and conditions of the concession the Kenya and Uganda governments gave RVR, added evidence that the
‘new’ Rift Valley Railways company has indeed shed the negative images and public perception of the starting days when the original owners from South Africa, who were Jack’s of all trades and masters of none, dominated the bad news in the business sections of the regional media.
RVR management expressed their satisfaction to have completed this crucial link between Mombasa and the North and North West of Uganda and hopes to recapture a significant share of the cargo traffic for bulk goods.