The rehabilitation of the $301 million Kampala-Malaba metre gauge railway line is near completion with 95 percent of the work done, the contractor, Chinese Railway and Bridge Cooperation (CRBC), has said.
The phased rehabilitation of the line started in February with funding from the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) and is due to be completed next month.
The first phase included engineering design for the Kampala multimodal hub and refurbishment of Kampala-Namanve and Tororo-Malaba sections totalling 28 kilometres.
The second phase covered the Environmental Study and Impact Assessment (ESIA), 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 sections totalling 245km.
The railway, which is part of the Northern Corridor of the East African Community linking Kampala to the Port of Mombasa in Kenya, is expected to bolster rail services and lower transportation costs.
“We have rehabilitated over 200 kilometres and are at 95 percent. We have fitted everything, including rails, slippers, compacted stones,” Qin Jian, a CRBC engineer, said in an interview at the weekend.
“We shall be able to hand over the project in February as planned because the remaining five percent (28km) is too small. We want to complete the rehabilitation work on time so that the trains can keep moving,” Mr Qin added.
John Sengendo, the Uganda Railways Corporation senior public relations and communication officer, said in order to curb vandalism at the newly-rehabilitated line, they are going to employ permanent inspectors, and install sensors to detect broken points on rails.
“Vandalism is not only about taking slippers or rails, but also stones. We are also working with the Uganda People’s Defence Forces and local leaders along the line to see that vandalism stops,” Mr Sengendo said, adding that repairing a single rail costs $8.
According to Mr Sengendo, passenger hubs will also be constructed, and they are going to lay a concrete slipper line from Mukono to Kampala, Mukono to Kyengera, and Kampala to Port Bell.
“We shall have diesel multiple unit or DMU, which will carry people so that we can reduce traffic gridlock,’’ he said.