Azuba: SGR construction to start next year

Works and Transport minister Monicah Azuba has in a twist of events said that government is still committed to the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), describing as false, media reports that the project had been called off.

The Daily Monitor on Monday reported that Finance Minister Matia Kasaija had announced that the SGR project is being put on hold and instead, government had turned its attention to revamping the old metre guage railway network.

But at a press conference she addressed jointly with Kasaija, Azuba said that the project is still on course, and construction is planned to kick off in 2019.

“The development of the SGR is being done at regional level. Its purpose is to make doing business affordable for Uganda to do trade at an international level. The SGR will join Uganda to the rest of East Africa. A design review was done and sourcing finance for it is in its advanced level,” Azuba said.

Kasaija distanced himself from the Monday report telling journalists that he had been misquoted.

“I was misquoted, the two sides – SGR Uganda and SGR Kenya are complementing each other, our Standard Gauge Railway will be constructed and in fact we shall go together to Beijing to source for more funding,” Kasaija said.

The SGR Mombasa – Nairobi, Kenya section is already operational

“Financing of the work of the SGR Uganda team’s work will continue. Even at Presidential level, President Yoweri Museveni and Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta have given us instructions to continue with the construction and financing of the SGR Uganda,” he added.

A total of 1,724Km of SGR lines will be developed in a phased manner starting with the Eastern line (Tororo – Kampala), Kasaija told journalists, further stating that the SGR project is a priority project as enshrined in the Vision 2040.

According to Government, the process of land acquisition is ongoing with a total of 3,083 Project affected persons out of 10,207 of those assessed have been compensated translating into 101Km out of 273Km.

SGR is part of the East African Community (EAC) Northern Corridor Integration Project, set to run from Mombasa – Kenya, to Kampala in Uganda and connect to Kigali in Rwanda and Juba in South Sudan.

Once complete, the SGR is hoped to reduce the days of transportation goods from Mombasa to Kampala to two days from the current 14 days.