Uganda builds rail link with Kenya’s SGR
- Uganda has signed a 5 billion shillings deal with a Chinese company to redevelop its century-old railway line between Malaba and Kampala to create smooth journeys from the port of Mombasa.
- The 260 kilometer line from Kampala will connect to the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) via the old Naivasha to Malaba railway line, which Kenya is in the process of upgrading.
Uganda has signed a 5 billion shillings deal with a Chinese company to redevelop its century-old railway line between Malaba and Kampala to create smooth journeys from the port of Mombasa.
The 260 kilometer line from Kampala will connect to the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) via the old Naivasha to Malaba railway line, which Kenya is in the process of upgrading.
When completed, cargo from the Port of Mombasa will be transported seamlessly via SGR and meter gauge rail to Uganda.
The renewed focus on the gauge line in the country now obscures hopes of speeding up the China-funded RMS, which was due to reach Kisumu by 2022 and connect it to a seaport for shipping to Uganda.
There are concerns that the SGR Mombasa-Naivasha line, which costs around 477 billion shillings including financing costs, may not be economically viable if it is not connected to Kampala, which is a major user of the Mombasa port.
China Roads and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) will take less than a year to upgrade the railway line between Malaba and Kampala.
Kenyan officials who accompanied President Uhuru Kenyatta to Kampala when President Yoweri Museveni was sworn in for his seventh term witnessed the signing of the 5 billion shillings deal.
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said they were part of talks between the CRBC and the Uganda Railways Corporation (URC) for the overhaul of the Malaba-Kampala line.
“We came here to help them (Uganda) get this deal done. It is done. The idea is to make sure that we have a flawless operation of the metric gauge railway line from Naivasha to Kampala, ”Macharia said over the phone.
“We had hired CRBC to rehabilitate the Longonot-Malaba line and progress has been good so far. So we thought it made sense, Uganda should also start doing the same for their line in order to complete this project, ”he added.
Kenya maintains that the rehabilitation of the Naivasha-Malaba line and the construction of another short track connecting the SGR to Naivasha is a faster option than the construction of another SGR.
He abandoned plans to extend the SGR line to Kisumu and later to the Ugandan border after failing to secure a multibillion shilling loan from China, which had funded the first and second phases of line.
The SGR line connecting the port of Mombasa to Nairobi was opened in May 2017.
It was then linked to the 150 billion shilling line to Naivasha, which began operations last August.
Currently, goods destined for Uganda from the port of Mombasa are transported by road from Naivasha where the multibillion shillings SGR line terminates from Mombasa.