Source: East African Business Week (Kampala)

A railway line linking Uganda to Sudan is in the offing.

This follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the joint development of the proposed Gulu-Nimule-Juba-Wau railway line on August 26 at Uganda's foreign affairs ministry in the capital, Kampala.


The existing railway from Mombasa, Kenya stops at Pakwach/Gulu in northern Uganda. The Pakwach/Gulu-Juba-Wau railway line is the missing link, which also has potential to connect to the Cairo-Wau and the proposed Dakar-Port Sudan railway lines. This would provide a transport link between Cairo and Mombasa.

Once the project is complete, trade barriers between Uganda and Sudan will be removed to help people do business.

The MoU signed by Uganda's roads and transport minister, Eng. John Nasasira and his Sudan counterpart, Brig. Gen. Philip Thon Leek Deng, according to a statement issued by the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) also covered other modes of transport.

Measuring 920 kilometres, the Gulu-Nimule-Juba-Wau route is considerably shorter by 108 kilometres than the earlier proposed route of Pakwach-Arua-Oraba-Yei-Juba that measures 1,028 kilometers.

"The Uganda-Sudan meeting took place in the context of Decision Number five (5) of the 5th Session of the Sudan-Uganda Joint Ministerial Commission held in March 2007 in Khartoum which noted the need to have joint project proposal on the roads and railway lines connecting the two countries for purpose of soliciting funding," Mr. Dan Alinange, UNRA's corporate communications manager said in the press statement.

The meeting also established a Joint Ministerial Transport Commission (JMTC) to implement the decisions of the MoU and to generally jointly provide the development of transport infrastructure and services between the two countries.

Alinange said officials discussed the status of ongoing or planned projects on key roads connecting Sudan and Uganda. They include Arua-Koboko-Oraba-Kaya-Yei-Juba, Gulu-Atiak-Nimule-Juba-Malakal, Moroto-Kotido-Kaabong-New Site-Kapoeta and Kitgum-Ikotos-Torit roads.

It was agreed to speed up the process of upgrading these roads to bitumen.

Uganda has secured a credit from the World Bank to undertake a feasibility study and design of the Vurra-Arua-Koboko-Oraba road which is expected to commence in September 2008. Upgrading to bitumen is expected to start in March 2010.

During this financial year the road will undergo routine maintenance, full regravelling and reconstruction of 14 bridges starting December this year.

Tenders for construction were due at the end of August 2008.

The procurement for the feasibility study and detailed design for Gulu-Atiak-Nimule road (104kilometre) is currently at technical evaluation stage and will be completed by September 2009.

Upgrading to bitumen is expected to commence in March 2010. The cost for construction of this road is currently estimated at US$75.4m.

Moroto-Kotido-Kaabong-New Site-Kapoeta road (265kilometre) is scheduled to receive full regravelling commencing January 2009. Subject to availability of funds, upgrading works will commence after June 2010. The road is estimated to cost $174m.

The Kitgum-Musingo (border) 80kilometre link lies in Uganda while the Musingo-Tsertenya-Ikotos-Torit 280kilometre is in Sudan. The feasibility study and design of the entire link from Rwenkunye-Apac-Lira-Kitgum-Tsertenya is scheduled to commence in February 2009 and be completed in December 2009.

Upgrading works estimated at $150m are scheduled to commence in June 2010.

The Uganda-Southern Sudan railway project is an immediate follow-up to another proposed line linking Uganda with Dar-e-Salaam Port in Tanzania.