A Kenyan journalist poses for selfies with female train driver Concilia (C) and Alice (L) during the launching day of the Mombasa-Nairobi railway in Mombasa, Kenya, May 31, 2017. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday launched the passenger train service of the 480-km Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR). Photo Credit: Xinhua/Sun Ruibo.

Kenyan and Ugandan officials will jointly seek funding from the Chinese government for a Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) linking the two neighbouring countries.

“Even at presidential level @KagutaMuseveni and @UKenyatta have given us instructions to continue with the construction and financing of the @SGR_Uganda,” Ugandan Finance Minister Matia Kasaija said Friday in a Twitter post.

Kasaija denied reports that his country would delay the construction of its section of the railway, projected to cost Ksh 234 billion ($2.3 billion), until Kenya secured additional funding for a portion of the link to the border. In Uganda, 1,724 kilometers (1,071 miles) of standard-gauge rail lines will be developed in phases starting with the so-called Eastern Line, Bloomberg quotes him as stating.

Completion of the link between Kenya’s port city of Mombasa, through the border at Malaba and on to Kampala was thrown into doubt when Kenya asked China to finance a section through a grant. China has provided most of the funding for the link until Naivasha.

China then refused to approve a Ksh 380 billion loan for the Naivasha-Kisumu standard gauge railway, despite all the formalities having been completed, reigniting concerns about the future of the country single largest infrastructure project.

Kenya and China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) had last month agreed on construction of the 267-km railway, with only the finer details of the deal set to be finalised on September 4 during President Uhuru Kenyatta’s visit to China. That did not happen.

“When we engaged the Chinese government, it was agreed that they do support it, but we need to complete the feasibility study, not just for Naivasha to Kisumu but also all the way from Mombasa to Kisumu so that we can establish its commercial viability,” Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia told a press briefing in Beijing on September 4.

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Kasaija had earlier been quoted as saying Uganda is focusing on revamping an old railway as an alternative means of transport,the country is no longer interested in extending the SGR from Malaba.

But Works and Transport minister Monica Azuba said Uganda was still keen on the project.  “These reports are incorrect. Uganda has not abandoned the SGR project. We are still on track in implementing this very important project. It will cut down travel time and costs of moving our cargo from Mombasa to Kampala. This will also ease the pressure on our roads,” Azuba said at the Lake Victoria Basin Commission headquarters in Kisumu.

 

 

 

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