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Uganda Works On Restoring Century-Old Rail Line After Failed Financing From China

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A British-built railway line, century old, will see light of the day in Uganda. The East African nation has started restoring one of the branches of the railway line. The restoration work will save the cost of shipping goods to Uganda’s north, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo, according to a railway spokesperson.

The East Africa rail network consists of Uganda’s railway line which has not been in use for 40 years. The rail network extends from a Kenya’s Indian Ocean seaport of Mombasa. The British ruler of both Kenya and Uganda built both the rail network and the line as part of it around the beginning of the 20th-century.

State-run Uganda Railways Corporation’s spokesman John Linnon Sengendo talking to British news agency Reuters, said, “Our ambition is to move all long-distance bulk cargo transportation onto rail from roads in a few years because rail is cheaper in terms of cost and time.”

Earlier, Uganda had plans to construct a separate modern standard gauge railway (SGR) but as it could not get China to finance the project, it took the decision to renew the old network. Uganda also cancelled a contract with China Harbour and Engineering Company Ltd at the start of this year. The contract was regarding the $2.2 billion SGR for which Uganda is now finding a new contractor.

Sengendo added that the old line would be repaired over the course of two years at a cost of 200 billion shillings ($55.48 million), which would be covered by the Ugandan government.

The 382 km (237 mile) portion of the line that has to be rebuilt connects Tororo town in eastern Uganda, close to the Kenyan border, and ends at a logistical hub in Gulu in northern Uganda, close to the South Sudan border.

The building of the Gulu hub, which is scheduled to be finished in late 2021, was funded by the European Union as part of the attempt to upgrade Uganda’s railway system, which deteriorated during the nation’s economic collapse in the 1970s and early 1980s.

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