Even after Rift Valley Railways (RVR) securing billions to rehabilitate the Uganda-Kenya line, the railway continues to be in a bad state, an issue that will continue hurting the country’s economic performance, traders have said.
RVR secured $287 million between 2011 and 2012 to rehabilitate the line between Mombasa and Kampala. Information from the Ministry of Transport shows $56 million (about Shs140 billion) of the $287 million would be invested to improve the Ugandan side of the line while the balance would work on the Kenyan side.
After acquiring the funds and starting off the renovation, Mr Brown Ondego, the vice chairman RVR group, told this newspaper that his company was investing in renovating the line and on completion, RVR would run bigger train locomotives all the way from Mombasa to Jinja plus reducing transit days for goods from Mombasa to Kampala from between 14 and 21 days to seven by the end of 2012.
But Mr Ondego noted that amidst multiple challenges faced in the renovations, the railway surface and functionality has improved. “The business has started using high capacity trains of 93 classes along the sections that have been re-done, increasing the tonnage. We are currently averaging seven days in some weeks, while in other weeks we exceed them,” Mr Ondego said. But according to traders, the impact is yet to be realised.
Mr Everest Kayondo, the chairman of Kampala City Traders Association, told the Daily Monitor that the repairs are yet to have an impact on the line, urging the Ugandan government to learn from its Kenyan counterparts.
He said: “... we have not seen any improvements. The speeds have not changed neither has the capacity transported increased. Government needs to get more involved in the railway business.”