Kampala, Uganda | URN | Ugandan government has approved Shs 1.4 trillion to rehabilitate the 215km Kampala-Malaba meter-gauge railway line.
President Yoweri Museveni in his State of the Nation Address 2020 emphasized the need to rehabilitate the old railway network especially following the numerous cases of COVID-19 among the truck drivers.
Mr. Museveni says that cargo should be shifted from road to railway transport which is not only cheaper, but reduces the wear and tear effect on highway roads.
According to Charles Kateeba, the managing director of Uganda Railways Corporation (URC), the government has approved Shs 1.4 trillion to rehabilitate the meter-gauge railway to reduce the cost of transport and traffic congestion among others.
This is contained in Kateeba’s letter addressed to the parliamentary committee on national economy committee on the effects of COVID-19 on business. Kateeba also said that the government has approved Shs 48 billion to purchase 8 locomotives.
“In the immediate term, the government has allocated Shs 9.5 billion to do minimum repairs on the line and equipment to immediately improve the performance of the railway to reduce the number of trucks on the road. These funds are expected to be received in a week” Kateeba says.
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However, the minister of Works and Transport Joy Kabatsi says that the rehabilitation will only start when there is availability of funds. She says that they will get some allocations in the budget, but she is not sure of the amount. According to Kateeba, the corporation has accumulated several debts as a result of low operations.
These include; Shs 1.2 billion NSSF debt, Shs 567 million for May salaries, Shs 850 million for outstanding tax obligations, Shs 500 million for medical and goods, money owed to other creditors worth Shs 1.4 billion.