KAMPALA– Government has described as false, media reports that Uganda has called off construction of the Standard Gauge Railway, affirming that the project is still on course with construction slated to kick off in 2019.
The shift in position was made by Minister of Works Monicah Azuba and Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija while addressing journalists at Uganda Media Center today.
The press briefing followed media reports that Government had halted the SGR Project forgive room to both Kenya and China to harmonise on their differences with Uganda now diverting attention to revamping the old meter gauge railway.
However, addressing media on Friday, Kasaija retracted his earlier statement arguing he was misquoted.
Kasaija said, “I was misquoted last week. The two sides SGR Uganda & the SGR Kenya are complementing each other.
“Our Standard Gauge Railway will be constructed & in fact we shall go together to Beijing to source more funding. Financing of the work of the SGR Uganda team’s work will continue. Even at Presidential level, President Yoweri Museveni and Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta have given us instructions to continue with the construction & financing of the SGR Uganda.”
The Finance Minister said that for the part of Uganda, a total of 1724KM of the SGR lines will be developed in a phased manner starting with the Eastern Line and emphasised that the SGR the project is a priority project as enshrined in the Vision 2040.
According to Government, the process of land acquisition is ongoing with a total of 3,083 Project Affected Persons out of 10,207 of those assessed having been compensated translating into 101Km out of 273KM & 1,002.8 Acres out of 2,994.519 Acres to be paid for (33.5%) and about Shs560Bn is need for land compensation.
Kasaijja explained that Uganda and Kenya agreed to synchronize the construction of the Railway lines such that they arrive at the same time on the Malaba boarder point with the two nations set to hold joint negotiations with the Exim Bank of China.
SGR is part of the Northern Corridor Integration Project, set to run from Mombasa through Nairobi in Kenya to Kampala in Uganda as well as connect to Kigali in Rwanda and Juba in South Sudan, with hopes that once complete, the transport route will reduce the days spent on transporting goods from Mombasa to Kampala to two days, from the 14 days currently spent.
Adopted in 2014 by the East Africa Presidents, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta flagged off the maiden passenger train on the newly completed Mombasa-Nairobi SGR in March 2017, he was followed suit by his Tanzanian counterpart Magufuli Pombe in April 2017.
Uganda had promised to kick-start the project in June 2015, but three years down the road, Government is yet to complete funding negotiations with Exim Bank China.
The Ugandan SGR project is earmarked to cost USD12.8Bn approximately Shs47,990,352,919,786Trn and of this, Exim Bank will inject USD2.3Bn which represents 85%, while the remaining 15% will be footed by Ugandan taxpayers.