Uganda secures 3.2 billion US Dollars for SGR rail project


(Posted 06th April 2015)

The Ugandan portion of the new Standard Gauge Railway project between Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan has now secured some 3.2 billion US Dollars in funding which will be provided by the Chinese government.

While the Kenyan portion is in part already under construction, will that section only reach up to the Ugandan border from where separate work contracts will be needed to cross the ‘Pearl of Africa’.

Information received over the Easter weekend speaks of President Museveni himself witnessing the signing of the deal with the China Harbour Engineering Company, which will be handing the engineering and procurement side of the project.

The main line of the new railroad will cross Uganda and link the border with Kampala from there the line is expected to move on to the border with Rwanda while the dormant line from Kampala to Kasese will also be upgraded. In addition will a branch line go north to connect the South Sudanese border town of Nimule, from where the section to Juba and beyond then has to be constructed under separate contracts.

Questions have however been asked already about the route to the Nimule border point, as the Rift Valley Railways operated narrow gauge line already extends to Gulu, only a short distance from the South Sudanese border, and with special reference being made to the planned LAPSSET railway. This new SGR line will connect the port of Lamu with both Ethiopia and South Sudan and will no doubt compete for cargo volumes with the branch line from Uganda to South Sudan.

Only a few days ago did Tanzania also reaffirm their plans to launch the construction of a new SGR line from Dar es Salaam to connect to their lake side port city of Mwanza but also on to Kigali and Bujumbura. This, should all projects be completed as the promotors suggest, would in the space of just a few years add three major rail lines from the Indian Ocean ports to the hinterland, in the opinion of some experts too many to provide sound financial returns and in the opinion of others too few to open up the respective countries for more trade opportunities. Time as usual will tell so watch this space.

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