Uganda Railways Corporation has received 20 refurbished flatbed wagons, thanks to a Ugandan company, MOFR Engineering Solutions Ltd, with funding from the Central Corridor Transit Transport Facilitation Agency (CCTTFA).
The purpose of this initiative is to revitalize the Kampala-Dar-es-Salaam route and increase railway cargo transportation from 40,000 to 200,000 tons annually within two years. Currently, most cargo is transported by road, which is costly both for businesses and infrastructure maintenance.
Transporters and importers, while welcoming this development, have raised concerns about high railway tariffs compared to the Mombasa route. Stuart Mwesigwa, the Director of Business Management at Roofings, Uganda’s largest customer of Uganda Railways, has called for a reduction in tariffs.
Works and Transport Minister General Edward Katumba Wamala assured the private sector that as infrastructure and private sector usage of the railway system improve, costs will naturally decrease.
Furthermore, private sector representatives urged the Ugandan and Tanzanian governments to address challenges affecting trade, such as communication and the acquisition of work permits.
The government is also planning to increase water transport capacity between Mwanza in Tanzania and Kampala and Jinja. This includes renovating MV Kaawa and retrieving MV Kabalega, which sank in 2005.
Flory Okonge Okandju, the Executive Secretary of CCTTFA, emphasized the need for Uganda to accelerate its infrastructure development along the central corridor to prevent cargo congestion in ports.
Minister Wamala acknowledged the need for infrastructure improvements to prevent congestion at ports and called on the private sector to make more use of the railway network, which is currently underutilized.
Ugandan officials requested further financial assistance from CCTTFA for the rehabilitation of more railway equipment.
Sarah Nambasa, the Corporation Secretary of URC, emphasized that the newly refurbished wagons will enhance cargo movement options for Uganda and mentioned ongoing efforts to support increased cargo transportation by train, including converting the Kampala Goods Shed into an inland depot.