May 12, 2014 (KAMPALA) – South Sudan is among several East African countries earmarked to benefit from the $3.8 billion railway line network that will mainly be funded by China with a 10% contribution from Kenya.
- Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni signs the railway line deal as his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta looks on in Nairobi, Kenya May 11, 2014 (PPU Photo)
The deal, which was finalised in Kenya, reportedly seeks a rail link between its port of Mombasa and the capital, Nairobi, with the inaugural phase linking Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.
Construction work, officials said Sunday, starts this October with China Communications Construction Company as main contractor of the three-year project.
"This project demonstrates that there is equal cooperation and mutual benefit between China and the East African countries and the railway is a very important part of transport infrastructure development," said Chinese prime minister Li Keqiang.
The regional Standard Gauge Railway Protocol (SGR) is reportedly part of the northern corridor integration project linking the Great Lakes nations to Mombasa port.
"The overall objective of the SGR protocol is to jointly develop and operate a modern, fast, reliable, efficient and high capacity railway transport system in the four countries and Great Lakes region at large," party reads a communique issued Sunday.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta said the new railways network will not only unify East Africans, but also bolster prosperity for all.
"This project is a reminder of the solidarity between East Africa in particular, Africa i general and Asia," Kenyatta said while urging East African partner countries to treat each other with sincerity and equality to consolidate mutual trust for development.
Uganda’s Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, on his part, thanked the Chinese government for empowering African economies with tangible projects in the infrastructural sector.
"China is concentrating on real issues of development. They do not give lectures on how we should run local governments and other issues I do not want to mention", he said, adding "China has concentrated on project of mutual gain".
The SGR project aims at providing efficient and cost effective rail transport for both freight and passengers, hence reducing costs of doing business. In the case of South Sudan, for instance, the rail link will boost its oil export to international markets.
It will connect the South Sudan capital, Juba through its Nimule border with Uganda, and Kenya through Nadapal, and then Bor, Malakal, Renk and Paloch towns.