Rift Valley Railways (RVR), the concessionaire for the Uganda-Kenya railway, hope to conclude rehabilitating the Tororo-Pakwach railway line by August next year. Fixing the 500km railway that has been out of operation for the last 18 years will cost $2m.
"The vandalised section of the line is about 10%. We should have the line operational by August 2013," said Celina Zalwango, the RVR marketing and communications manager. She said the complete overhaul of the Uganda-Kenya railway line is moving at the expected pace and the second tranche of funding is expected shortly.
"It is a phased approach. Building the wagons takes a much longer time. They are not off the shelf," said Zalwango.
She added that upon completion, a 10-wagon train shall operate the route, which should come as a big boost to farmers, whose produce is not selling cheap because of middlemen and poor transport.
Eastern to northern Uganda is a key agriculture corridor producing maize, rice, ground nuts and livestock. The areas are a major source of food for western Kenya and South Sudan. The northern line runs between Tororo, Mbale, Kumi, Soroti, Lira, Gulu and Pakwach.
Announcing the development, the RVR country general manager, Mark Rumanyika, said: "Landlocked South Sudan is commercially viable. Hydro carbons have been discovered in the Albertine Graben and peace has returned to the north, meaning the potential for business growth is unlimited."
Rumanyika said works on the line commenced in November.
The restoration will be done in three phases.
The first phase of the works involves clearing of bushes, weeding and removal of anthills, and is being done by a Ugandan engineering company, Kato Engineering.
The second phase will involve restoration of washed out areas due to flooding, especially in Soroti, and installation of new culverts where required.
The final phase will involve replacement of vandalised locations.
"Opening up the central economies to the rest of the world is one of the most important aspects of the East African integration project. We intend to play our part in accelerating this process," Rumanyika said.
Rehabilitation of the northern railway line is one of the major transformation projects aimed at improving the business RVR has undertaken in the last year.
Others include repair and replacement of nine major culverts between Busembatia and Jinja, overhaul of 365 wagons in a KFW funded project, overhaul of eight locomotives, the replacement of 70km of railway line between Mombasa and Nairobi and the automatic train warranty project.
RVR is a Kenya-Uganda concessionaire operating freight and passenger rail services in Kenya and Uganda.
It was founded in 2006 and has been granted a 25-year mandate to operate railway services on 2,000 kilometers of track linking the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa in Kenya with the interiors of Kenya and Uganda.