On Thursday, Uganda announced that construction on the $2.2 billion Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) would begin this year, providing relief to landlocked countries’ importers and exporters who have long faced exorbitant transportation costs.
The Ugandan government is said to be in talks with the Turkish firm M/s Yapi Merkezi to build the SGR’s eastern route. According to a statement from the Ministry of Works and Transport, construction will begin this year.
In 2015, Uganda and the China Harbour and Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC) agreed to start building the railway in exchange for CHEC’s assistance in obtaining funding from the Chinese government.
Years of negotiating with the Chinese over the funds had yielded no results, so Uganda terminated the agreement at the start of this year and began talks with Yapi Merkezi to carry out the project.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “sourcing for alternative financing from Europe is ongoing.” There was no mention of any specific European donors that Uganda was courting.
The line will run from Kampala, Uganda’s capital, to the country’s border with Kenya, where it is expected to connect with Kenya’s own Standard Gauge Railway line, which leads to the port of Mombasa on the Indian Ocean.
Uganda anticipates that the railway will significantly improve efficiency and lower the cost of transporting commodities such as coffee and tobacco.
It is currently connected only by a narrow gauge rail line built a century ago by the former colonial power, Britain, and a network of costly and time-consuming roads.