Kasingye Kyamugambi, the head civil engineer and project coordinator of the Ugandan section of the Standard Gauge Railway project says they are synchronised with Kenya 100%.
“We see what they are doing and they see what we are doing,” he said referring to Kenya that launched its first cargo and passenger trains this week.
Kyamugambi told press at Media Centre in Kampala that the cost of this infrastructure is not based on hearsay.
“All the time you are asking the costs are high. What is your basis? There is no engineering basis. In railway, there is route length and track length “the length of the route is normally longer than the track length,” he explained.
He said Uganda is going electric right from the onset while Kenya is diesel.
He said the distance from the coast is very important because Uganda will transport materials hence synchronising to see that Malaba and Kampala stretches are completed at the same time.
He said 92% of the costs will be in engineering and 8% in the locomotives and that there will be a locomotive exchange at the border done by switching the engine heads.
“It is done in other countries as well. Kenya is fully committed because the economics determines.”
Land acquisition is a real challenge and to Kyamugambi, it is risk number one, “I think the issue is the law (land)”.
He said misinformation about the project has also been a challenge, saying with this social media they can’t do much.
“We cannot industrialise without the railway. We are looking at the railway and the oil at the same time. They are going to complement each other,” Kyamugambi noted.
He said they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding [MoU] with the Kenyan contractor to kick off the electric locomotives which are cheaper and have high power.
He said there will be some few kilometres of electricity in Malaba (Kenya) because they “agreed that once you get to Malaba you switch the locomotive from electric to diesel”.
He, however, agreed with electric locomotives, the challenge is electricity but in operations electric is cheaper than diesel.
“We instituted railway levies in all the countries. The classifications vary from country to country but for us we opted for class one,” he noted.
He added: “Yes the class affects the maintenance ‘a Benz takes you for a couple of kilometres more than a kikumi’.”