The construction of the remaining section of the new Standard Gauge Railway, between the Kenyan Rift Valley, the border with Uganda and then on to Kampala, has come a step closer after the two partner countries have agreed to jointly source the financing for this project.
One delegation made up by experts from both countries will travel to China together, or so it is understood, after consensus was reached between Kenya and Uganda that 80 percent of all inbound and outbound cargos will use the Northern Rail Corridor and the port of Mombasa.
Feathers were ruffled a few months ago when Uganda pulled the almost certain routing of its oil export pipeline from a routing through Kenya and signed a firm agreement with Tanzania. The new pipeline routing will now circumnavigate Lake Victoria and then run in an almost straight line towards the port of Tanga which will be upgraded over the next two years to incorporate an oil loading facility.
At the time did the future of the SGR railway look somewhat doubtful with some elements in Kenya pressing their government to terminate the SGR route at their designated new manufacturing zone in Naivasha but the latest agreements, in particular with the firm commitment to ship 80 percent of the cargo traffic to Mombasa and the joint finance sourcing, was this obstacle finally removed.
There has not yet been a final decision on the route in Uganda between the border and Kampala but it is expected to be in the same traffic corridor as the new Kampala – Jinja – Kenya border highway which will cross the Nile in Jinja over a new bridge presently in an advanced stage of construction.
While no construction time frame is available at this time, given the fast pace of completing the Mombasa to Nairobi section of the railway, once finance has been secured and the construction contracts been signed, will a ride from Kampala to the Kenyan coast be within reach by the end of the decade or not long afterwards.
Contentious though is still the routing in Nairobi where court cases continue aimed to stop the rail route traversing the Nairobi National Park, as repeatedly reported here in the past. Work on the Naivasha – Ugandan / Kenya Border – Kampala sectors however is not expected to be delayed as it will constructed under separate contracts.