Kenya has already commissioned its Mombasa-Nairobi SGR, cutting down transport fees.

The planned Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) system will be affordable, competitive and attract foreign investment into Uganda, an official from the Ministry of Works and Transport has said.

“The cost of transportation from Uganda should be globally competitive and able to attract FDIs. SGR Uganda will be Chinese Class One. We want our railway to be globally competitive,” said its coordinator Kasingye Kyamugambi.

Global competitiveness has been a major driving factor in the implementation of SGR, Kyamugambi said and that “We cannot industrialise our country without the Standard Gauge Railway.”

He said financing negotiations with the Chinese Exim Bank have been underway for the last 18 months to kick start the project. He said the bank has sent in a team to assess the project. “The Appraisal team is assessing the engineering, technical, economic and financial readiness of the project. We are on track,” he said.

“We hope within three weeks we shall be done with the process and later interface with Exim Bank. The project has a life cycle and we can’t dodge any process! We have to give it time. We are designing for 100 years so I don’t think we should panic,”

The consultants hired by Exim Bank will inspect the key construction points along the line including kilometer 00 (the starting point of the SGR), the Super Bridge in Jinja, Kampala East station in Namanve, swamp bridges, Tororo station and the Access Road Flyover.

He said it is really a great milestone that after their evaluation they give a report to the bank, adding that they have put efforts to conclude the financing discussions to pave way for construction. “We are putting all efforts to conclude the financing discussions and start construction,” he said. We already see the signs that construction is happening soon, he added.

He said the project will attract local content and that they already have held discussions with manufacturers like Roofings, Madhvani Steel and Tube. “We want to ensure Ugandans can supply up to 40 per cent materials into construction of SGR.”

The biggest SGR station will be in Namanve, Jinja and Tororo will have the next biggest station

The US$ 3.2 billion modern railway line from Nairobi will join Kampala through Malaba to Nimule in South Sudan. This will be in part of the Standard Gauge Railway construction project already underway to connect East African countries.

The railway project in Uganda received a major boost following the signing of Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) agreement. China has approved to finance the 476 kilometers line, which include catering for the detailed designs of the railway.

Standard Gauge Railway was launched when Presidents Yoweri Museveni, Paul Kagame, Salva Kiir and representatives from Kenya and Burundi met in Uganda in 2014.