The government of Uganda has dismissed claims that it has abandoned the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project.
Uganda’s Minister in charge of Works and Transport Monica Azuba said the reports appearing in a cross section of the media were false and unfounded.
Ms Azube said Uganda was firmly committed to the project, adding that a tender for consultancy and construction of the line has already been awarded.
Uganda, she said understands the importance of the project and was making steps towards signing a loan agreement with Exim Bank of China before rolling out the project.
“Some 90 percent of cargo comes to Uganda by road and this has really increased our road maintenance costs which we know shall come down drastically once the SGR is in place therefore we cannot afford to abandon the project,” she said.
The delay in starting construction of the line, she said, was deliberate to let Kenya make progress on Phase II of the project.
“We do not want to construct a hanging line. We are waiting for the line from Nairobi to get near Kisumu then we start,” she said.
Uganda, she added was also learning from the Kenyan situation and reviewing agreements before embarking on the project.
Speaking in Kisumu on Wednesday where she paid a courtesy call on Lake Victoria Basin Commission Secretariat, Azube said everything was on course.
'OLD LINE REFURBISHED'
She added that the ongoing refurbishment on the metre gauge railway line in Uganda should not be seen as a move to abandon the SGR project.
“We received funds from the European Union to refurbish the old line which we want to run concurrently with the SGR to connect other parts of Uganda,” she said.
The minister added that Uganda was also committed to opening up transport in Lake Victoria to cut the huge costs of road maintenance.
“Lake Victoria is a great resource to us and as we put up modern railways infrastructure we must also think of how to open up the lake for transport,” she said.
Lake Victoria, despite having the potential to connect the three East African Countries, is largely underutilised.
Very few vessels ply different routes within the lake which records over 5, 000 deaths annually as a result of drowning.