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Kenya's dilly-dallying over SGR extension to Kisumu rattles Uganda

Uganda is now considering the alternative line through Tanzania.

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The landlocked country has been forced to the wall by Kenya’s dilly-dallying over the extension of the SGR toKisumu-Malaba where Uganda hoped to then take it up to Kampala.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Uganda’s Finance Minister Matia Kasaija said that China’s Export-Import Bank will only fund the project if Kenya extends its line to the border, which has prompted Kampala to start exploring alternatives.

“We have to wait for our neighbours to decide on the plans for the last phase of this project before we can get the funds. China really doesn’t want to fund a white elephant,” Mr Kassaija said.

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In May 2016, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said that extension of the line to Malaba may no longer be necessary if landlocked states opt out, forcing Uganda to hatch a plan B.

“The decision has not been reached but we have a number of options at our disposal. We can decide to end the SGR at Naivasha or Kisumu but it will still be a viable venture due to the presence of Lake Victoria,” said Mr Macharia.

Uganda is now considering the alternative line through Tanzania, having already secured funding for the construction of the Port Bell harbour.

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The line will connect Uganda via Port Bell all through to Musoma port on Lake Victoria to Tanga port on the Indian Ocean, and the Central Corridor via the Mwanza/Bukoba ports on Lake Victoria to the Dar es Salaam port.

“We have a choice of going with whoever gives us the quicker and the best alternative so as to have a modern railway network. The harbour at Lake Victoria will be funded by German lender KfW,” Mr Kasaija said.

In April, Tanzania’s President John Magufuli commissioned the construction of the 205km Dar-es-Salaam-Morogoro SGR, which is expected to be completed in 30 months.

Kenya is officially set to commission the SGR on 31st May.

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On Thursday, though the Kenyan government  announced it had been offered $3.59 billion (Sh369 billion) By China through the Exim Bank of China for the construction of the third phase of the SGR from Naivasha to Kisumu.

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