What you need to know:
In 2017, government terminated a concession in which Rift Valley Railways (RVR) had been managing assets of URC
Government will in the next three years undertake a total transformation of the railway network, according to Mr Stanley Ssendegeya, the Railway Corporation (URC) managing director.
The commitment, Mr Ssendegeya said, comes after government secured a €302m (Shs1.2 trillion) loan from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to facilitate capacity building projects and network transformation.
Speaking in an interview, Mr Ssendegeya told Daily Monitor the transformation will be informed by a work plan developed by Deloitte Uganda.
“It will fully restore the main line meter gauge rail, all URC main line stations, railway workshops, ports, locomotives, wagons, passenger coaches and also procure some more vessels,” he said, noting that the railway system will be an important player in supporting growth of the oil sector, which is currently under the development stage.
Government has been sending mixed signals in relation to developing the railway system, committing to modernise the network by adapting a regional plan for the Standard Gauge Railway.
However, the plan has since been paused with government seeking financiers to revamp the meter gauge railway network, which has suffered years of neglect and near to no investment.
In 2017, government terminated a concession in which Rift Valley Railways (RVR) had been managing assets of URC. Government blamed RVR for failing to fulfil terms of the concession that had required increase in cargo volumes and investment.
Some experts have blamed the breakdown of the railway network to years of neglect under the RVR concession.
Government has since returned assets to URC, mobilising financing with focus now put on a number of priority lines, among which include Gulu-Pakwach and Kasese-Pakwach lines which stretches to Malaba border.
URC, Mr Ssendegeya said has secured more support from other countries, such as Spain, which has already committed to fund upgrade of at least 28 kilometres as well as offering a three-year capacity building programme.
Other projects, he said, include works to connect the Tororo-Gulu line to the Naivasha standard gauge railway as well as launch of Gulu Logistics Hub.
Works Minister Katumba Wamala has previously emphasized government’s plan to revive the metre guage railway network, noting that“URC infrastructure has been lying in waste for many years thus government will do all it takes to revive the network”.