Uganda, Kenya set to build SGR

Works and Transport Minister Katumba Wamala (right, seated), and his Kenyan counterpart Kipchumba Murkomen, (left, seated) sign a communiqué affirming their commitment to construct the SGR in a coordinated manner in Mombasa mid-last year. Photo | Courtesy | Ministry of Works

What you need to know:

  • The two countries have already agreed on the financing and the building of the SGR to Kampala and beyond.

Kenya is to start the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line from Naivasha to Kisumu, and then to the Ugandan border this year.

Prof Peter Anyang’Nyongo’o, the governor of Kisumu City in Kenya, described the commencement of the extension of the SGR to Kisumu and then Uganda as good news for business and travellers of the two neighbouring countries.

“As the Kisumu governor and the chairman of the Lake Region Economic Block, I wish to thank the national government for the new commitment in extending the SGR to Kisumu and eventually to Uganda,” Prof Anyang’Nyongo’o said in a statement.


Last year, Uganda and Kenya agreed to construct the SGR from Naivasha in Kenya to Kampala City in Uganda at the same time.

In a joint communiqué signed by the Minister of Works and Transport , Gen Katumba Wamala, and his Kenyan counterpart Kipchumba Murkomen, in Mombasa, Kenya, the two countries agreed on the financing and the development of the SGR to Kampala and beyond.

Prof Anyang’Nyongo’o said Mr Murkomen revealed that they expect to cover 35 percent of the SGR project by December.

In an interview, the SGR project coordinator in Uganda, Canon Perez Wamburu, told this newspaper yesterday that Uganda would also start the construction of its side in the next financial year, which starts in July.

“The resources for the construction of the SGR are in the Budget of 2024/2025 financial year. It is in trillions [of shillings]. It is the first time they (government) have put money for the construction of the SGR,” Canon Wamburu said.

Canon Wamburu said they are currently compensating project-affected people between Malaba border and Jinja City.

Railway is the cheapest means of transport and reduces pressure on the road system, which is often affected by weather and social challenges.

Last year, the Uganda government got funding from a commercial bank and contracted a Turkish company to carry out the SGR construction.

The Turkish company was to construct 273-kilometre (170-mile) of SGR from Malaba to Kampala starting this August at a cost of $2.2b.

Metre-gauge railway

Uganda is also rehabilitating the metre-gauge railway between Malaba and Kampala City.

The metre-gauge railway and SGR can effectively work alongside each other, but the lines of the two railways will not use the same path.

Last year, an official from the railway sector said the metre-gauge railway would carry very heavy cargo like steel and others that don’t require to be delivered fast, while the SGR would carry cargo that is well-packed in containers.

In 2022, President Museveni said they have plans to build a SGR line from Kampala to Kasese in western Uganda to connect the Democratic Republic of Congo and later to South Sudan.

President Museveni said it would greatly reduce the cost of transporting goods in the region.

Earlier attempts

The Standard Gauge Railway (SGR)  project was embarked on in 2014 by the regional leaders from Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan and Rwanda, but when the construction reached Naivasha, the Kenyan authorities pulled the plug on it.

Both countries committed to undertaking the SGR extension project as a regional project under the Northern Corridor Integration Projects Initiative.

The Chinese funders too declined to fund the SGR project on the Ugandan side.

The Kenyan authorities had declined to get more funding from the Chinese financial institution for the project over budget and political issues.