375 KILOMETRES OF NARROW GAUGE RAILWAY TO BE REPAIRED OVER THE NEXT THREE YEARS
(Posted 20th February 2020)
The narrow gauge rail lines from Tororo to Gulu and Pakwach are undergoing heavy maintenance work and refurbishment – similar to the repairs on the narrow gauge line linking Kampala to the border with Kenya.
A failed privatisation of both Kenya Railways and Uganda Railways through Rift Valley Railways ended more than two years ago when the two national rail companies terminated the concession with RVR, bringing rail transport from Kenya into Uganda to a standstill.
Given the financial challenges of extending the standard gauge rail line from Naivasha to the Kenya / Uganda border and then on to Kampala – the feasibility of this extension is no longer assured after Rwanda has signed up with Tanzania to establish an SGR route to the port of Dar es Salaam – have both Kenya and Uganda allocated funds to refurbish the old narrow gauge railway line from Naivasha to the border and then on to Kampala.
The northern branch line, from Tororo to Gulu and Pakwach, will take up to three years to refurbish, including additional work on culverts and other infrastructure, which has both broken down and in some areas outright vanished.
Once completed will the rail line allow renewed cargo shipments from and to Mombasa by train from the north of Uganda and also tap into the cargo traffic potential of South Sudan, where trucks would deliver to and evacuate cargo containers from Gulu.
If and when work on the Kampala to Kasese line will start, is presently unclear though the Ugandan government has also included this rail line, which ends close to the Congo border, as a priority item.
Enquiries about the estimated cost of the project were not answered.