The dream of the East African standard gauge railway line, a landmark infrastructure project connecting the port of Mombasa to the bustling cities of Kampala and Kigali, may soon spring back to life. The hopes for this project’s revival are fueled by a recent agreement signed between the Ugandan government and the Turkish firm, Yapi Merkezi.
Yapi Merkezi, a Turkish company with an impressive portfolio, has already earned its stripes in the region by securing the contract for the Tanzania Standard Gauge Railway. This experience positions the company advantageously to tackle the formidable task of building the proposed 1,500 km-long railway track, from Mombasa to Kigali, which unfortunately fell behind the original schedule.
Up until now, Kenya has been the only country among the participants to complete the first phase of the railway construction, a section stretching from Mombasa to Nairobi. The upcoming commitment from Uganda signifies a reinvigorated momentum to get this pan-regional project back on track.
In a formal statement issued by the Ugandan government, they indicated their decision to engage Yapi Merkezi for the execution of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project. The statement read, “Uganda is contracting Yapi Merkezi, the same Company contracted for the Tanzania SGR, for the construction of the SGR on both the eastern and western sections of the Malaba-Kampala-Kigali route. The Turkish company is known for its commendable work on the SGR project in Tanzania.”
The Ugandan government further informed that the Yapi Merkezi delegation is scheduled to hold meetings with the Tanzania Railways Corporation (TRC) and other key stakeholders in anticipation of the Partner States Northern Corridor Integration Projects (NCIPs) SGR cluster meeting. The cluster meeting is slated for 24th to 26th May 2023, in Uganda’s capital, Kampala.
The timeline for commencing the construction work has not been precisely determined yet. However, Uganda has indicated that they have completed the feasibility study and designs for the 273 km-long railway stretch between Malaba, in Kenya, and Kampala. The cost for this Ugandan section alone is estimated to be a hefty $2.3 billion.
Meanwhile, Rwanda has shared that it has finalized the preliminary engineering design for the new railway line from Kampala to Kigali, passing through the scenic Mirama Hills.
The envisioned standard gauge railway, connecting Kampala to Kigali, forms an integral part of the Northern Corridor infrastructure project. This project seeks to build an expansive railway network from Mombasa to Malaba at the Ugandan border, before branching out to Kampala and finally reaching Kigali in Rwanda. Additional branch lines are proposed to Kisumu, as well as to Juba in South Sudan via Kasese and Pakwach, thus knitting the region more closely together, driving economic growth, and enhancing regional integration.