The government of Uganda through Uganda Railways Corporation (URC), has embarked on a five year plan to revive the East African country’s meter gauge railway (MGR) system at a cost of US $340m.
According to URC Executive Director, Charles Kateeba, the plan will be funded by the European Union (EU). He revealed this after leading a team of the corporate’s technical officers to inspect the Jinja Railways station.
An outline of the plan
The plan generally entails construction of inland container depots in different regions, rehabilitation of the railway line and construction of business centers along the railway line. Kateeba noted that they conducted feasibility studies early this year and identified a contractor to create structural designs for a world class inland container depot at Port Bell.
He also revealed plans to put up a modern inland container depot in Gulu district that will handle containers from both road and rail upon its delivery.
Furthermore, the executive director mentioned that members of the URC technical committee are conducting a week long survey to assess viable sites for the construction of business centers along the railway line.
Upon completion, this project is expected to boost trade, especially in both the import and export sector not only in Uganda but also within the larger East African region.
Decision to revive the old rail system
The Government of the republic of Uganda resolved to revive the meter gauge railway system after withdrawing from the Rift Valley Railways (RVR), a consortium that was established to manage the parastatal railways of Kenya and Uganda fourteen years ago.
According to Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija, the government was forced to end the 25-year concession after Rift Valley Railways failed to meet parameters like payment of concession fees, increase freight traffic volumes and turn around Railway operations.