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SGR funder doesn’t want to look at us-Finance Minister

FILE PHOTO: Standard Gauge Railway

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Ugandan traders expecting to use the Standard Gauge Railway to transport their merchandise from Mombasa to Kampala should forget it for now as the funder doesn’t want to commit money before he is sure that the Kenyan line will reach Malaba border. Uganda had hoped to get money from the Exim Bank of China.

But Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija says “the funder doesn’t want to look at us”.

This adds more uncertainty to when or whether the line will ever be constructed. This comes at the time when Kenya has failed to secure funding from China that would have seen the SGR extended from Nairobi to Malaba for Uganda to get money for the leg to Kampala.

The minister also indicates that Kenya has never fully indicated to Uganda that it would be able to reach Malaba.

Uganda needs at least US$3.2bn for the SGR leg to Kampala. Some land owners from Malaba to Iganga have been paid to give way for the line, according to Kasaija.

Some money will also be provided for more compensation in the coming financial year although there are no assurances that China will be providing the funds for actual construction to go on.

Last week, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta was in China and had hoped to secure US$3.68 billion from Beijing —in loans and grant—to take the SGR line from Naivasha in Central Rift Valley to the lakeside town of Kisumu, and on to the Malaba border crossing from where Uganda would take over construction to Kampala and beyond.

This failure meant Uganda couldn’t go ahead to ask China to extend money to it because the line doesn’t make business sense without Kenya reaching Malaba. Kasaija says in the coming budget, he had allocated money for the old meter gauge railway rehabilitation, which will see the country turn to the old lunatic railway as they wait to sort SGR issues.

But he also indicated that government was trying to think of other alternatives in the event that Kenya fails to arrive at Malaba. He said there is a thought that maybe they use the Busia border go on land to Majanje lake inside Kenya and go by water either to Mwanza or Kisumu ports.

At least 95% of the cargo coming into Uganda travels by road. This is expensive in terms of the slowness, high insurance premiums because of the high costs involved and the bribes paid to traffic police on the way both inside Kenya and Uganda.

Ugandan traders are losing up to US$1.2bn (Shs 4.3tn) annually on transporting their goods from the coast to Kampala, according to industry players. On average, it costs an importer US$5000 (Shs 18m) to transport a container to Kampala. The railway line would cut that cost by more than a half.




  1. This senseless acquisition of debts had to stop at a certain time because the Chinese is becoming suspicious. These people are eating debts and eating more and more. They must be having acplan and of not paying.

    • Rwasubutare , Sir could you please clarify by what you mean with senseless debts ?

      1. Are the projects for which funds are borrowed senseless.

      2.What criteria did you use to conclude the senselessness of the projects for which the loans are to borrowed?

      3.Incase you worried Uganda will fall to pay what evidence do you have that the borrower will fail to pay back the debt ?

      4.Could you share that evidence please

      5.Incase you worried that the borrowed funds will be misused/diverted what evidence is guiding that deep and profound worry ?

      And finally

      5.Why is mr rwasubutare a sworn Rwanda patriot/citizen concern himself with Uganda’s , an independent and sovereign country, economic wellbeing?

      Maybe that deep and profound concern of Mr.Rwasubutare for Uganda would best be served when focused on Rwanda a country with it’s own melieu of challenges needing all the brainpower/ human resource it can muster up
      including that of Mr. Rwasubutare to make it much better country than it’s now.

  2. Government should fund construction of the railway from our local revenue. Whatever the costs. Ethiopia did it with the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam(Inform), we can do it, and send a message of resolve and independence.

  3. Peterson Kato Kikomeko

    Sincerely, if true that our traders are losing US $ 1.2 billion annually, there should be no reason for the funders not wanting to look at the Finance minister for mere want of borrowing US $ 3.6 billion. The maths just doesn’t add up. We need to analyze the situation better

  4. bweyare johnson

    ….the funder doesn’t want to commit money before (he) is sure that the Kenyan line will reach Malaba border..

    The Independent, how do you know the funder is a ”He” ?

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