Minister for Finance Matia Kasaija has said China is ready to bank roll the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) in Uganda but Kenya’s failure to extend the line to the border at Malaba has hindered its progress.
Kasaija who is part of a delegation in China led by President Museveni said on Friday that they have held talks with China’s Minister for Commerce, officials of Exim Bank and Kenya’s Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia to see how the SGR project will be implemented.
“China has always been ready to give us the funds to start the construction of SGR in Uganda, but there have been some complications between us with our neighbor Kenya. Kenya is supposed to extend the line to Malaba, but they have not been able to do so,” he said.
The 1,500KM railway project is expected to increase the East African region’s competitiveness, lowering transport costs and overall cost of doing business.
Kasaija said the meeting between Uganda, Kenya and Beijing was successful and that “there is money but each country needs to work on its financial modalities of the railway project before money is released.”
Kenya’s Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia however says it is only the time frames that have changed.
“Eventually, the SGR will reach Kisumu and finally Malaba.”
Macharia agrees that no big infrastructure project can be viable if countries do not work together. He says the SGR is a regional project which Kenya cannot develop on its own because 85 per cent of the cargo at Mombasa goes to Uganda.
Kenya has already completed the initial SGR phase linking Mombasa to Nairobi, and Phase 2A is 98 per cent complete and will be operational in September.