Rwanda, Kenya agree to expedite extension of railway network

By Wycliffe Nyamasege
On 5 May 2024 at 10:52

The governments of Rwanda and Kenya have struck a new agreement that paves the way for the extension of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) to Rwanda and other neighboring countries in renewed efforts to expand trade and business links.

The agreement was reached during a recent meeting in Mombasa, attended by Rwanda’s Minister of Infrastructure, Jimmy Gasore; Kenya’s Roads and Transport Cabinet Secretary, Kipchumba Murkomen; and Uganda’s Minister of State for Transport, Fred Byamukama.

Economic Advisor Roger Te Biasu represented the Minister of Transport of the Democratic Republic of Congo at the SGR Cluster Ministerial Meeting held on Friday.

CS Murkomen expressed his confidence that the agreement between the four countries would revive the railway project, which has been delayed by a lack of funds.

“This historic move seeks to enable joint resource mobilisation, expedite the completion of the construction of the remaining SGR sections from Naivasha in Kenya to Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan and DRC, and develop a roadmap that will fast-track its implementation,” said CS Murkomen.

The initial plans were to extend Kenya’s SGR line from Naivasha to Kampala, Uganda, before extending it to Rwanda and South Sudan.

However, the project has faced a five-year delay due to a lack of resources.

At the Mombasa meeting, the four partners agreed to pursue resource mobilisation for the high-speed railway as a joint project.

“It was a challenge to do the project piecemeal, we cannot have SGR in Malaba to Kampala if Naivasha-Malaba is not complete. That is why we are seeing funds to ensure the sections are done simultaneously,” stated Minister Byamukama.

The construction of Kenya’s SGR cost $3.6 billion, financed by a loan from China’s Exim Bank. The SGR has significantly reduced the cost of transporting cargo from the Port of Mombasa to the hinterlands.

According to CS Murkomen, the Friday meeting also sought to harmonise the planning and development of inland water transport infrastructure in order to provide seamless multimodal transport services and speed up the review of the Tripartite Agreement on water transport on Lake Victoria.

“As a country, we seek to leverage private sector partnerships in the extension of our SGR line in an effort to, not only ensure seamless cross-border movement of goods and people, but also create special economic zones along the corridor that will transform areas with stop stations into economic hubs,” added Murkomen.

The Minister of Infrastructure, Jimmy Gasore, makes his remarks during the SGR Cluster Ministerial Meeting held in Mombasa. Beside him is Kenya's Roads and Transport Minister Kipchumba Murkomen.