The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) has provided USD 301 million to Uganda Railways Corporation to overhaul Kampala – Malaba railway which provides the connection between the capital, Kampala, to Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa.
The financing approved by the Group’s Board of Directors consists of loans and grants from the Africa Development Bank and its concessional lending window, the African Development Fund.
The works consist of the rehabilitation of 265 km of meter gauge railway tracks between Malaba, in eastern Uganda at the border with Kenya and Mukono, in Central Region of Uganda, including the line to Jinja Pier and Port Bell on Lake Victoria.
The project incorporates training and skills development for the railway workforce. It also will integrate nature-based solutions, including tree planting, to enhance the climate resilience of the tracks.
“The railway lines are critical to opening up the heartland of Africa, where there is immense agricultural and economic potential,” African Development Bank Group President Akinwumi Adesina said.
The modernized line is essential to ensure the connections of the rural-based Special Agricultural Processing Zones with other vital logistics centres. “Railway lines should not simply connect ports to mines, Adesina explained.
The Government of Uganda approved EUR 330 million for the Malaba – Kampala rail project which aims to improve freight connections particularly between the capital city of Uganda and the country’s eastern border with Kenya and also reduce the cost of transport and traffic congestion. This project is scheduled to be completed in three phases. The first one – called the emergency phase – is funded by the Spanish government through Export association and will cost EUR 28 million includes engineering design for Kampala multimodal hub, engineering design for the refurbishment of Kampala – Namanve and Tororo – Malaba sections totalling 28 km.
The second phase financed by the African Development Bank with EUR 302 million covers ESIA study, the purchase of workshop equipment and rolling stock including wagons and locomotives, as well as the rehabilitation of Namanve – Tororo, Port Bell line, Jinja Pier line and Kampala – Kyengera railway totalling 245 km. Under the project, passenger halts and hubs will be also constructed.
The Kampala – Malaba railway is part of the multimodal East African Community’s Northern Corridor route, which includes road transport from Mombasa in Kenya to landlocked Uganda and neighboring countries, including Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and Eastern DR Congo. The corridor also has maritime links with Lake Victoria’s inland waterways.
Rail is viewed as a safer and more affordable mode of transport than road, but currently, more than 90% of the traffic along the northern corridor is carried by road, with a mere 7% moving by rail because of poor infrastructure. As a result, transport costs along the corridor are comparatively high.