URC is on a mission to revamp and revitalise its railway network in order to guarantee reliable, cost-effective, efficient and safe transport services while advancing trans-African rail development.
Geographically positioned at East Africa’s crossroads, Uganda’s railway network has the potential to play a crucial role in the transportation of imports, exports and local cargo within the region. For this reason, President Museveni is on a mission to prioritise the extension and rehabilitation of Uganda’s network and Uganda Railways Corporation (URC) is making sure it powers this vision. Currently, URC is focused upon revamping and extending its railway network through the rehabilitation of a Meter Gauge Railway line and the construction of the new Standard Gauge network in the Northern Economic Corridor whose reach will expand to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan. “The Standard Gauge Railway will ensure that all countries are connected to each other seamlessly,” explains Former Chief Financial Officer and currently its newly appointed Managing Director, Stanley Sendegeya. “Uganda is currently negotiating funding with China Exim Bank, we want to construct proactively towards Kenya as they build towards Uganda.”
“The Standard Gauge Railway will ensure that all countries are connected to each other seamlessly.”Stanley Sendegeya FCCA, Managing Director of Uganda Railways Corporation
In June 2020, Uganda’s government approved US$366 million for the 270.6 kilometre Malaba-Kampala metre-gauge railway refurbishment project, including an immediate investment of over US$12 million approved to purchase four locomotives for the line and more than US$2.5 million for routine repairs across the network. This line will upgrade commuter connections between the capital city and Uganda’s eastern border with Kenya for cargo.
Later on in the year, in October 2020, the US$46.7 million 375 kilometre metre-gauge Tororo- Galu railway project was launched with a US$25.4 million financial input from the European Union and with the French contractor SOGEA-SATOM on board for the installation of steel sleepers. With the potential of being the longest railway line in East Africa, this single-track line will link eastern and northern Uganda to the port of Mombasa in Kenya. It will also connect to the new US$11 million multimodal Gulu Logisitics Hub which will be ready in 2024, an inland terminal with the capacity for 200,000 TEU, guaranteeing transport cost reduction and a plethora of job opportunities, as well as securing movement of freight to and from South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
URC understands the importance of efficient construction, operation and maintenance of the country’s railway network and opportunities abound for foreign investors looking for potential and possibility within the nation. “Uganda’s Railway Corridor is ready for investments of over US$8 billion for other railway complimentary services,” declares Sendegeya. “We want to implement the transit-oriented model of development whereby our station areas and the land along the railway reserves can attract private parties who can build silos, warehouses, hotels and other facilities so that we can interface our business with the rest of the economy. With that model, the private sector can boost agriculture and the farmers in the villages will be able to transport bigger volumes of their products to the stations which are then shipped into the country or exported.”
Investment in Uganda’s railway network will result in cost-effectiveness, sustainability and climate-friendliness while assisting in rapidly moving Uganda’s agenda forward. “We have reopened the connection between Uganda and Tanzania and are running the wagon ferries on the lake between the Uganda Port Bell and the port of Mwanza in Tanzania,” states Sendegeya. “We also run wagon ferries between Port Bell and Kisumu in Kenya mainly transporting diesel for the Ugandan market. We have been able to repair Kampala to Port Bell and Jinja station to Jinja pier railway lines and are negotiating for funding for some of the projects we are talking about. We have also negotiated funding from the Spanish government which is starting next year on the line from Kampala to Malaba.” Things are moving fast in Uganda and URC is proving itself on track to providing the means to drive the nation towards progress, sustainability, modernisation and social development.