The Uganda Railways Corporation (URC) will on 27th April have a trial run for a cargo train from Port Bell in Luzira to Kampala Railway station.
According to the URC Senior Marine Officer Charles Ruzigye, government has already invested about Sh 1 bn in rehabilitating the railway connection from Port Bell to Kampala that has been inactive since the year 2002
The project which is part of the Central Corridor is aimed at facilitating transportation of cargo to and from the port of Dar es Saalam through Mwanza port in Tanzania.
“We have replaced the rails and sleepers and we plan to have a trail run for a cargo train from Port Bell in Luzira to Kampala on April 27th this year,” Ruzigye said.
Ruzigye said at a media briefing organised by the Central Corridor Transit Transport Facilitation Agency (CCTFA) media coordination office in Kampala that since 2002, Uganda has had no transport activity on Lake Victoria and this was further dampened by an accident in 2005 when MV Kaawa sunk.
He said a commission of inquiry was set up and it recommended that both MV Kaawa be rehabilitated in 2012 and issued with new certificate of worthness.
However this was followed by the privatisation of the railway network when the contract was awarded to Rift Valley Railways (RVR) who however never utilised the rehabilitated the ferry.
He said: “So in July last year the two governments of Tanzania and Uganda signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on joint ministerial cooperation and improvement of ports, inland waterways and railway transport in order to increase transit trade along the Central Corridor and among the two countries.”
The memorandum was signed last year at Dar Port by the Tanzania’s Minister for Works, Transport and Communications Prof. Makame Mbarawa and Uganda State Minister for Transport Aggrey Bagiire in the presence of CCTFA Executive Secretary Capt. Dieudonne Dukundane and TRL Director General Mr. Masanja Kadogosa, among others.
The Central Corridor that starts from Dar es Salaam port in Tanzania to the hinterlands is comprised of five countries including Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The agreement is aimed at re-opening of the multi-modal transport route from Dar es Salaam Port to Port Bell in Kampala via Mwanza Port through the use of trains and Wagon Ferry services.
“Government has since then terminated the RVR contract due to non-performance and the operations were returned to the Uganda Railways Corporation,”.
He added that cargo transport will further be facilitated by the already existing two vessels.
“As we plan to open the Central Corridor starting from Kampala, the Tanzania government has already provided (Motorised Vessel) MV Umoja while Uganda already has got MV Kaawa,”
Both are ready to transport cargo and each of them has got a capacity of carrying 880 tonnes of cargo per trip and capable of making eleven voyages in one month when maximumully utilized for exports and imports.
He said that the ferries that carry 44-20ft containers take only 17 hours from Mwanza to Port Bell.
“Government is also looking for between $4-$5m to rehabilitate MV Pamba that has been docked at Port Bell since the year 2005,” Ruzigye explained.