Officials in Kampala have revealed plans to expand the Uganda SGR project to a 2,700-kilometre standard gauge railway network following uncertainties with Kenya’s Naivasha-Malaba SGR extension.
Uganda’s SGR project which will see the country increase its initial SGR coverage increased nearly ten times, will include connections to its Northern, Eastern, Western and Southern neighbours.
The country had initially planned a 271-kilometre SGR line as part of the Nothern Corridor Project linking Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. However political upheavals and financial uncertainties have hindered the project.
Kampala plans to begin the project in the 2022/2023 fiscal year even if Kenya fails to extend its SGR line to Malaba, officials told the Citizen.
Uganda is optimistic about closing a funding deal with the China Exim bank in the coming months to secure the project.
Uganda SGR project co-ordinator, Perez Wamburu, told a section of Ugandan media that the viability of the line under different scenarios remains positive and that a Chinese company will operate the network for the duration of the loan repayment period before handing over the assets to Uganda.
The Uganda SGR link to Kenya’s SGR was thrown off-balance when Kenyan Authorities cut its SGR construction procession at Naivasha, opting instead to refurbish the old line.
Kampala has been assessing the viability of its SGR line if there is to be no direct linkage with the Kenyan line.
However, Mr Wamburu said a direct interface with the Kenyan SGR would be the better option, even though all scenarios would generate positive rates of return with varying margins.
Among the scenarios under consideration is for the project to include a hanging line from Kampala to Malaba, with the hope that Kenya will resolve its issues and extend the line to Malaba.
“We shall be sitting with Kenya and China Exim to bring clarity to issues of the interconnection but everybody is still committed to this project,” Mr. Wamburu said
At least 120km of the 271km Uganda SGR corridor has been secured with 4,800 projected affected persons compensated so far as preconstruction activities continue.