By Edison Oluoch
BEIJING, China – China has agreed to finance a $3.2 billion railway project, including detailed designs and contracts, for the 476 kilometre line connecting Kampala via Malaba to Nimule in South Sudan writes EDISON OLOUCH.
President Yoweri Museveni witnessed the signing of the Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) contract for the Eastern and Northern Standard Gauge Railway Network project last week. Malaba is in eastern Uganda bordering Kenya.
The EPC is being handled by China Harbour Engineering Company Limited (CHEC).
In his brief remarks, Museveni said one of the challanges that Uganda face is in the area of transporting large/heavy cargo from ports like Mombasa cheaply and faster.
With construction of the eastern and northern standard gauge railway, he said this problem will be solved.
“One of the bottlenecks to Africa’s economic development is the high transport costs because of the absence of railway transport or where they are, they are inefficient. That is why we are trying to rectify this. Our government, with the support of the Chinese government, is helping us build an efficient railway system in Uganda and the region,” the President said shortly after the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works and Transport and officials of CHEC,led by Li Yichong signed the contract.
Construction of a Standard Gauge Railway was agreed upon by Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan as an essential infrastructure project for the Northern Corridor.
On completion, the new line will connect Mombasa to Malaba (with a branch line to Kisumu City) then onward to Kampala, Kigali (with a branch line to Kasese town) and Juba (with a branch line to Pakwach town).
The Minister of Works and Transport, Eng. John Byabagambi said the project is the biggest local undertaking ever signed by Uganda.
Works have already started from Mombasa for the Kenya portion also with Chinese financing.