Freight volumes from Mombasa to Kampala are set to increase following the launch of three locomotives by East Africa’s rail way operator, Rift Valley Railways (RVR).
According to Qalaa Holdings formerly Citadel Capital, the largest shareholder in RVR with 85 per cent equity, the arrival of the three of the 20 American-built locomotives is the latest development in the five-year turnaround capital investment programme worth $287million (about Shs754 billion).
“These new locomotives, combined with the impact of our programme to recondition existing locos and refurbish the rolling stock, will have a transformative impact on the concession’s performance,” said Karim Sadek managing director Qalaa Holdings and director RVR l.
Mr Sadek added that an additional 31 locomotives during this fiscal year will ensure more freight is moved out of the Port of Mombasa which will at the same time double the haulage capacity.
The development comes after a lot of criticism that RVR had been slow in revamping railway transport. Dr Charles Mbire, the proprietor of Bomi Holdings Uganda, an indigenous company that owns equity of 15 per cent in RVR, said the number of days taken to transport cargo from Mombasa by train has since January reduced from seven days to three and a half.
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony of the three locomotives in Mombasa last week, the Kenya Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Eng Micheal Kamau, said: “Since January 2013, RVR performance on freight haulage as measured in billion net-tonne kilometres has seen a fairly steady rise manly due to investment in the track on the Mombasa-Nairobi section and the refurbishment of the rolling stock.”
Uganda’s minister of State for Transport, Dr Stephen Chebrot, said: “In order for our economies to transform, we need to transport our goods by railway and an efficient and effective railway system is a vital pillar for boosting economic growth and Africa’s competitiveness.”
RVR secured a Shs50 billion asset financing deal with Standard Bank and CFC Stanbic Bank towards the acquisition of 20 locomotives. The three are the first to be brought in East Africa since 1987 and they are part of the 20 locomotives (16 for Kenya and four for Uganda).