Revamped railway line to boost trade - minister

People catch a cargo train belonging to Rift Valley Railways in Kampala in 2011. PHOTO | FILE

The government has embarked on an overhaul revamp of the defunct metre gauge railway to improve trade.

The State Minister for Works and Transport, Mr Fred Byamukama, while addressing the media on Saturday, said some works on the Shs1.144 trillion project are already ongoing. 

President Museveni has repeatedly said the move aims at creating an alternative and  cheaper means of transport for traders.

“All those projects are to cost Shs1.144 trillion out of which Shs744 billion is from the Uganda government,” Mr Byamukama said, adding: “We are to get from the European Union and Spanish government a loan of Shs400 billion.”

Mr Byamukama said the revamp will cater for 1,266km of the already existing railway lines with completion dates set for early 2025.

“We believe that if everything goes on well and we don’t have Covid again, come early 2025, all these projects will be done and Ugandans will be enjoying,” he said.

The lines to be revamped include the Kampala-Malaba, Tororo-Gulu, Gulu-Pakwach and the Mukono-Namanve-Kyengera routes.

“Government has invested Shs184 billion [the Kampala-Malaba route] and by the end of November this year, we shall be done with the rehabilitation of this line and it will be functioning like a new line,” he said. 

Works on the other lines are gearing up with feasibility studies being conducted on the Gulu-Pakwachi line at the tail-end.

“The feasibility studies are going on and we anticipate that by the end of 2023, the Gulu-Pakwach line will be fully completed and will be functional,” Mr Byamukama said.

Whereas, the major focus of the above routes are meant to ease the pressure on road transport, the revamps are also meant to ease transport for travelers within Kampala metropolitan area. 

In so doing , government intends to revamp the Kampala-Kyengera stretch to cater for travelers exiting the central business district to the western end of the city.

The revamp will come with an additional 15 new locomotives that, according to Minister Byamukama, will be secured from the Spanish government. 

Government will also procure 300 wagons to carry the cargo containers and stand-by vehicles to be stationed at various routes upon completion.

“We are going to procure railway way transport emergency vehicles so that incase accidents happen, we have emergency vehicles which can go and rescue people,” Mr Byamukama said.

When asked about the fate of the Standard Gauge Railway, Mr Byamukama said the compensation process has heavily stalled the works. 

He said about 90 percent of the Project Affected Persons along the route between Kampala-Malaba route have been compensated.

He revealed that government had since included the Kampala-Kasese line to be upgraded from the metre gauge railway to become a Standard Gauge Railway. 


The Uganda Standard Gauge Railway is a planned railway system linking the country to the neighbouring countries of Kenya, Rwanda, DR Congo and South Sudan, as part of East African Railway Master Plan. 

The SGR is intended to replace the old, inefficient metre-gauge railway system.The  line is intended to ease the transfer of goods between the port of Mombasa and the city of Kampala, and subsequently to Kigali in Rwanda, and to Beni in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and to Nimule and Juba in S. Sudan.