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President directs Works Ministry on SGR

President Museveni has given the Ministry of Works up to September to conclude the loan acquisition contract with China's Exim Bank to facilitate the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway.

Works State Minister, Gen. Katumba Wamala, told the Parliamentary Committee on Physical Infrastructure that the Ministry had met the President, who directed that the deadlock between Uganda and Exim Bank over signing of the contract should be resolved soon.

The Works Ministry's meeting with the President was held on 2 May 2018.

Uganda applied for a US$2.3 billion loan from Exim Bank in 2015 but since then, the two parties have not reached an agreement largely due to the different outcomes of feasibility studies done by both entities.

The president was firm on minimizing mistakes during the final negotiation with Exim Bank and called for flexibility by both parties without compromising quality of the project, said Wamala.

Gen. Wamala also allayed fears of the MPs on the availability of land to allow for the construction of the standard gauge railway.

There is enough land and currently we have acquired 100 kilometres out of the required 270, said Wamala.

Legislators however accused the Ministry of failing to compensate the people affected by the project.

Richard Okoth Othieno (NRM, West Budama North) said that some people have been evicted without compensation.

The government gave the locals assurances that they would be compensated but this has not been done. While some people have received compensation, others have not, said Othieno.

Robert Kasolo (NRM, Iki Iki) advised government to plan for compensation until the project is complete.

It is likely that there will be changes during the implementation of the project which might affect some people and force them out of their land. Such incidences should be planned for, said Kasolo.

The planned 1,700 km rail network is expected to help boost trade between Kenya through its seaport of Mombasa and its vast hinterland stretching to South Sudan, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi.

Source: Parliament of Uganda

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