The first phase of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) that is expected to start this year will cost Shillings 8.2 trillion. The 273-kilometre line from Malaba to Kampala is being built by China Harbour Engineering Company.
Kasingye Kyamugambi, the SGR Project Coordinator, says the construction of the Malaba-Kampala line will take nearly four years.
Mr Kyamugambi adds compensation of those in the way of the line is already in high gear, adding that once the funding requirements are finalized construction work should start in earnest.
SGR will have its own route separate from the old railway line run by Rift Valley Railways, which has a 20-year concession.
In total, the Eastern Route covering a distance of 273 km will pass through the 11 districts of Tororo, Butaleja, Namutumba, Iganga, Luuka, Mayuge, Jinja, Mukono, Buikwe, Wakiso and Kampala. The right of way or marking of the railway corridor has been completed upto Kampala District.
Mr Kyamugambi further explained that the SGR has slippers spaced 1,435 millimetres while the old railway line’s slippers are spaced 1,000 millimetres.
The wider SGR spacing allows for faster movement of trains, which is instrumental in the movement of goods. The Ugandan SGR will connect to the Kenyan one whose construction is already underway. Eventually the Ugandan SGR will connect to Rwanda and South Sudan.
Dr Fred Muhumuza, an Economics lecturer at Makerere University, says investments in SGR and other infrastructure will boost economic activity and growth. The government projects economic growth of 5.5 percent this financial year. The SGR is a project of the Government of Uganda with a concessional loan from the Export-Import Bank of China.
It is estimated that by 2040, the SGR benefits that will accrue to the country will be about $118.4 billion (Shs424.5 trillion).