East Africa: Tanzania Starts Construction of Railway Line Link to Uganda

 Kampala — Tanzania has started building the 300km Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from the Indian Ocean port of Dar es Salaam to Morogoro, which line is expected to be extended to Port Mwanza on Lake Victoria to link Uganda.

This development will put the spotlight on plans which should have seen Uganda either renovating the run-down Port Bell in Luzira or starting work on the proposed Greenfield Bukasa Port in Kirinya, Wakiso District.
The Bukasa option has been estimated to cost Shs486 billion ($180 million) and if linked with the railway line from Tanzania, would become a part of both the Southern and Central transport corridors, respectively.
Construction of the multi-billion railway line was launched on Wednesday by Tanzanian president John Pombe Magufuli. In attendance, on behalf of Uganda, was the Charge d'Affaires at Uganda's High Commission, Mr Oscar Edule, who is currently holding forte, pending new High Commissioner Richard Kabonero's assuming office.
"Our main focus is to improve the infrastructure sector, something which will in turn improve other sectors," Mr Magufuli remarked at the ceremony held at Pugu Railway Station in Dar-es-Salaam.
The electric railway has been designed to support a maximum speed of 160km/h for passenger trains and 120km/h for freight. It is expected to be complete within 30 months.
Dar es Salaam is Tanzania's principal port with a rated capacity of 4.1 million down weight tonnage (dwt) dry cargo and six million dwt bulk liquid cargo.
Uganda is still struggling with similar ambitions, and is locked in talks to convince China's Exim Bank to release $2.3 billion (Shs8 trillion) for construction of a 273km SGR line running from Malaba to Kampala. The tender for construction was awarded to China Harbour Engineering Corporation (CHEC) in 2014. Works were expected to last 42 months.
During his visit to Tanzania in February, President Museveni was told by Tanzanian authorities of their plans to construct the SGR, a revelation which technocrats in Uganda's ministries of Finance and Works interpreted as an attempt by Tanzania to sway him as happened in the case of $3.4 billion crude export pipeline project.
Tanzania is constructing its SGR at a much lower cost at $5 million (Shs17b) per kilometre compared to Uganda's $8.4 million (about Shs30 billion) per km.
Beijing, which has for months been very guarded on financing the railway from Nairobi to Kampala and has been shuttling back and forth with economic calculations, boxed Uganda and Kenya into a tight corner, forcing them to agree, guarantee and ensure timely construction of the connecting routes for the railway to run seamlessly from Mombasa to Kampala.
On the Kenyan side--the line (120km) running from Nairobi to Naivasha in Kenya is expected to cost$1.7 billion (Shs6 trillion), from Naivasha to Kisumu port (266km), the cost estimate stands at $3.6 bilion (Shs13 trillion), while the 107km line connecting to Malaba on the Uganda-Kenya border will cost $1.7 billion (Shs6 trillion).
After completion of the Malaba-Kampala line (the eastern route), Uganda had planned to embark on the western route from Kampala to Ntungamo near the border with Rwanda, and then on to the northern route from Tororo to Packwach near the border with South Sudan.
The entire SGR project in Uganda is expected to cost $12.8 billion (Shs46 trillion) making it the most expensive infrastructure project in Uganda's history.


Posted on : 05 May,2017

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