The Uganda Railways Corporation (URC) has extended its transport services from Kampala city revamping it’s old routes to Wakiso district.
According to Mr Abubaker Ochaki, the URC Chief Operational Engineer, the route from Luzira, city centre, Ndeeba, Nalukolongo, Kyengera, up to Bujjuko on Mityana Road will be ready by June. Ochaki explained that PortBell route had also been finalized.
Recently, URC reactivated the Kampala- Bweyogerere route, upgrading it to serve three times a day.
The fares of the train from Namanve, near Mukono, to Kampala city in the morning hours is Shs1,000.
“Proceeding back to Namanve, a passenger pays Shs1,500. A return ticket costs Shs2,500,”Ochaki explained, adding that URC is negotiating with Tanzania Railway Corporation to grant them 20 coaches, which will be used, when the new routes are opened for operations.
Railway transport was the popular cheap means of transport in Uganda during the 1970s and 80s.
It covererd 190kms from Kampala to the Kenyan border and 8kms between Kampala and Port Bell in Luxury.
It also covered Kasese in western Uganda, Mbale, Soroti and Northern Uganda, until the privatisation wave of the 1990s which saw a lot of government parastatals sold off.
Govt to inject Shs360b
Last month, government announced plans to Invest Shs360b to revamp the railway transport.
Works minister Monica Azuba Ntege said the money will be used to rehabilitate the railway line, improve staffing and upgrade the existing lines, including extending the line into new areas.
In his New Year message, President Yoweri Museveni fronted the use of railway transport, arguing that it cuts costs and boosts industrial production.
He explained that Uganda roads would also be spared perennial damage caused by the huge trucks that ferry heavy equipment and raw materials for use in industries.
In October last year, the government terminated a 25-year contract it had given to Rift Valley Railways to manage the railway transport business. Government’s argument was that the RVR had failed to meet the conditions set.
This prompted RVR to go to court, challenging the move, arguing that it had a running contract. The matter is still in court.
Ntege defended the move blaming RVR Uganda for failure to improve the transport system.
“Many things had been wasted during the management of railway business by RVR,” Ntege said.
But Vincent Tshiongo, the acting managing director RVR Uganda said the concession agreement they signed with government was a raw deal.
“RVR took all the risks, which would have been shared with government,” he added.
Tshiongo explained that in a fair concession agreement, government would have invested in infrastructure as RVR handled operational, comme