By The Insight Post Uganda
Legislators have approved another loan aimed at revitalizing the Kampala-Malaba railway.
This move reflects Parliament’s commitment to expediting the restoration of this vital railway line, with the overarching goals of boosting trade, improving transportation, and aligning Uganda more closely with its East African Community partners.
This pivotal decision followed the unanimous adoption of a report, skillfully presented by Hon. John Bosco Ikojo, the Chairperson of the Committee on National Economy.
The report endorsed the government’s proposal to secure a loan totalling 147.69 million Euros (UGX593.9bn) from the African Development Fund and an additional 25.9841 million Euros (UGX104.4bn) from the Corporate Internationalization Fund of Spain.
Ikojo emphasised that the railway’s refurbishment is designed to achieve several key objectives, including enhancing transportation links, elevating trade competitiveness, and providing critical support to industries such as agro-processing, mining, timber, petroleum, and manufacturing.
As per the committee’s recommendations, the government is urged to ensure adequate resources for the Uganda Railways Corporation and railway police. This is essential to enable effective patrolling and safeguarding of the railway infrastructure against acts of vandalism and theft.
Furthermore, the report calls upon the government to allocate Shs79.93 billion to compensate individuals affected by the railway’s expansion. This compensation is vital to liberate the much-needed land from encroachers, ensuring the timely execution of the project while reducing future compensation expenses.
Another significant suggestion put forth by the committee is for the government to invest in a fully-equipped concrete sleeper production plant, to be owned by the Ugandan government.
This facility would play a pivotal role in producing concrete sleepers essential for the rehabilitation and construction of rail lines across the nation.
Within the chambers of Parliament, a comprehensive deliberation unfolded, punctuated by the voices of numerous MPs who stressed the need for judicious utilization of the loan for the benefit of Ugandans.
Mawokota County North MP, Hon. Hillary Kiyaga, expressed a common concern about loans being diverted away from their intended purposes, highlighting the importance of staying true to the reasons for borrowing.
Hon. Bernard Onen, the Eastern Region Youth Representative, underscored the railway’s significance in transporting a substantial 70 percent of inland goods through the eastern part of the country, heralding its potential as a game-changer for the transport sector.
Hon. Jenipher Namuyangu, the Minister of State for Bunyoro Affairs, appealed to the House to grant approval for the loan, citing its transformative potential in revolutionizing the transport sector and connecting numerous districts.
However, Hon. Muhammad Muwanga Kivumbi, the Member of Parliament for Butambala County, raised questions regarding the parity between the government’s counterpart funding and the borrowed amount, especially when the latter had not been budgeted for.
He also expressed reservations about the loan’s high-interest rate, urging the House to scrutinize the loan request carefully.
To provide a comprehensive picture, Hon. Henry Musasizi, the Minister of State for Finance in charge of General Duties, informed the House of the loan’s multifaceted purposes.
In addition to railway restoration, the funds would be channelled towards feasibility studies, physical planning, resource revenue enhancement, waste management practices, asset management, and assessments of traffic and environmental impacts, among other critical endeavours.
This investment was poised to usher Uganda into a brighter and more interconnected future.