Minister of Works and Transport Hon Monica Azuba Ntege has dismissed claims made by a parliamentary committee on Physical and Infrastructure demanding to review the Uganda Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project.
It recently released a report that contained information that does not provide the true picture of what the Ministry is doing.
Azuba said that some of the information contained in this report is not accurate and can easily harm the development of the SGR in Uganda.
The committee visited railway lines in Ethiopia and Djibouti, and found that costs associated with Uganda’s new line were much higher.
And the MPs demanded a review of $13B SGR after finding that Ethiopia’s cost $3.4B.
It is against this backdrop that the Minister was prompted to clarify on key issues raised in the skewed report.
“The Government of Uganda has continued to fast-track the implementation of the Standard Gauge Railway in line with the Regional SGR Protocol, signed by the four Northern Corridor Partner States of Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan and Rwanda.” She said.
The MPs alleged that SGR- Uganda is constructing China class 2 system yet their partner states like Kenya embarked on class 1.
Azuba however responded that, “Uganda is constructing a China Class 1 railway system as clearly defined in The Code for design of railway line (National Standards of the People’s Republic of China GB50090-2006). Under this standard, Railways are primarily classified based on their role, nature, and annual traffic volume (tonnage).”
She added that this is an official document from the Ministry of Railways China that can be easily accessed for verification.
The contract signed, feasibility done and all other technical documents even submitted to the financiers indicate that we are constructing Class 1 railways
“The Northern Corridor Integration Projects (NCIP) partners of Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan and Rwanda all agreed to construct China Class 1 railway and signed a Protocol to this effect. It was further agreed that the SGR is developed and operated as a seamless transport system.”
She further expounded that it is important to note that there is no universally agreed classification of railways in the world.
“Each country has its own classification. The classification in America is different from that in
Europe, China or India. American classification, for example, is based on annual revenue it generates, while British classification is based on structure gauge i.e. height of the trains. China. Class 1 is determined based on role of network, annual freight volume, speed, curvatures, among others.Any information contrary to the above facts, therefore, is misleading,” Azuba said.
The committee further made assertion that the railway design and operating characteristics are the same. However the Minister said it is not true because of the SGR Protocol, the specifications and design details of Uganda and Kenya are different from those of Ethiopia.
“Notably, the Class of the railway, the loading gauge, the trailing load, the annual traffic volume/capacity, gradients, radius of curvature, etc. Uganda and Kenya are developing Class 1,” she explained.
In her conclusion Azuba highlighted that as directed by H.E. the President of Uganda, the Government, through the Ministry of Works of Transport, continues to fast track the development of the SGR.
The SGR is a transformational Project for Uganda that will not only stimulate industrialization, but provide the needed impetus to lift the country into a middle income country. Any delay will impact on the country significantly.
Uganda is following the SGR Protocol and is developing China Class 1 Railway system.
As ably demonstrated, the development of the Malaba-Kampala SGR is comparable to other costs in the region, taking into account the unique features along the route, especially the bridge over River Nile and the expansive swamps along the route.
Therefore, following the directive of H.E. the President of Uganda and the President of Kenya, the Ministers responsible for Finance and Works in both countries will undertake a joint mission to the Government of China soon to discuss the financing of the SGR projects. Any delay on this Project, will not only impact on Uganda’s commitment to the agreement signed with Kenya but also the achievement of Uganda’s middle income status and Vision 2040.
It is my humble request to all Ugandans, especially, the esteemed honorable Members of Parliament to support the successful development of the Standard Gauge Railway Project.