Government has denied reports that it has put on hold the Standard Gauge Railway(SGR) project as reported early this week.
On Tuesday, Daily Monitor reported that government had decided to put the project aside to turn its attention to revamping the old metre gauge railway network.
On Friday, the Finance Minister Matia Kasaija and his works counterpart, Eng.Monica Azuba Ntege dismissed the reports as baseless.
“I would like to emphasise that the Standard Gauge Railway is a priority project of the government of Uganda as enshrined in the Vision 2040, the National Development Plan I & II of the NRM manifesto 2016-2021 and one of the priority projects of President Museveni for Kisanja Hakuna Mchezo,”Kasaija told journalists at the Uganda Media Centre in Kampala on Friday morning.
“Even at a presidential level President Museveni and Uhuru Kenyatta have given us instructions to continue with the construction & financing of the Standard Gauge Railway project.”
Eng. Monica Ntege said the project is a priority development that government cannot abandon at any given time.
In its report,Daily Monitor quoted Kasaija as saying that the SGR project would take a lot of time for government to complete as they allegedly had to wait for the Kenyan part to reach the Malaba border point before Uganda can also start on its own construction.
Kasaija however told journalists on Friday that he had been misquoted in regards the project.
“I was misquoted last week. The two sides of the Standard Gauge Railway in Uganda and in Kenya are complementing each other. Our Standard Gauge Railway will be constructed and in fact we shall go together to Beijing to source more funding,”Kasaija said.
In a bid to confirm that the project was ongoing, the Works minister said that the process of acquiring land on which to construct the SGR was ongoing.
On reports that government had now put it focus on the old metre gauge Railway, Azuba said it would be developed along with the Standard Gauge Railway, adding that the latter would concentrate on bulk traffic.
“They will run together complementing each other. The metre gauge railway will be transporting to and from the short areas,” she said.
Uganda is yet to begin construction of its 957km part of the Standard Gauge Railway from Malaba to Mirama hills.
The project will done in four phases including the Malaba- Kampala line(215km),Tororo- Gulu line(190km), Kampala–Mpondwe section(430km) and the Bihanga–Mirama Hills Section(205km)
Kenya on the other side recently competed construction of part of its 472km (293 mile) Standard Gauge Railway that runs from Mombasa to Nairobi whereas construction of the 120km line from Nairobi to Naivasha, 266km line from Naivasha to Kisumu and the 107km line from Kisumu to Malaba is ongoing.
The Standard Gauge Railway is a regional project meant to link Kenya,Rwanda,DRC,Uganda and South Sudan.