Rift Valley Railways (RVR), in partnership with Uganda Export Promotion Board (UEPB), has asked Ugandan exporters to look at using railways as an opportunity to increase sales volumes using a cheaper alternative writes SHARON KYATUSIIMRE.
RVR currently holds the concession for the Kenya and Uganda railways network.
RVR cheif executive officer Darlan De David said, “We ask the traders to look at the options and aantages of using railways as this will help them and the country to balance its trade which is in deficit at the time.”
The RVR’s Chief Commercial Manager, Andreas Heinel said last week, they are still facing a big problem in Uganda.
Most traders had lost trust and belief in the railway systems after a 20 year breakdown. He said they will need much sensitization for the traders by the media, trade organisations and the government on changing this perception if Uganda is to develop like Kenya and other countries.
The Nairobi-Kampala railway is still under-utilized with 45% of its cargo coming from Kenya to Uganda and only 25% originating in Uganda to Kenya. This is inspite of a $120 million rehabilitation programme.
“Our transit time has been reduced from 14 to six days. The price of a 40 foot container is at $2200. This is 10% less than what is charged by truckers. Other aantages include safety of goods from theft and bad road conditions. No road blocks and the capacity to carry large volumes of goods. Soon, we will start transporting humans. The entire necessary infrastructure is in place and we are only waiting for the signing of the contract by government to resume human transportation,” Heinel said.
Emmanuel Mutahunga, the UEPB Executive Director UEPB,said Uganda experienced a decrease in its exports from $2.82 billion in 2013 to 2.66 billion in 2014, which is a 6% decrease.
Mutahunga said if railway transport is reliable then other challenges like quality and quantity can then be worked on. He said in future railway will be a better option to protect the roads.
Source : East African Business Week