Termination of RVR concession by Kenya rattles Ugandan railway users


(Posted 01st August 2017)

Reports from Nairobi suggest that Kenya Railways has now formally cancelled the concession for Rift Valley Railways and that measures have already been agreed between the two parties to put in place timelines, action lists and a handover committee comprising key staff from both organizations.
Ugandan sources contacted claimed promptly that they had not been officially notified of the move and that until such time that they are served by their Kenyan partners with the respective documentation it will keep the status quo intact. The same sources however also refused to discuss if Uganda Railways too would become part of the cancellation of the concession as fears are spreading among the main users of the railway, mainly fuel and bulk goods importers, over a potential gap in providing services.
Ahead of the August 08th elections is the Ugandan business community already jittery given the memories of the 2007/8 post election violence when the railway lines were uprooted in parts of Nairobi, effectively cutting rail traffic to Uganda off for several weeks.
Kenya Railways has for some time faced suspicions and allegations that, given their involvement in the new Standard Gauge Railway line, they were seeking ways and means to effectively ground the existing railway to finish off an inconvenient competitor once cargo traffic finally commences between the port of Mombasa and initially Nairobi, before the SGR will in years to come be extended to the Kenya / Uganda border and on to Kampala.
Given the importance of the RVR services to Uganda however are questions now being asked in Kampala about reassurances of uninterrupted train services which are yet to be given however.