By Grace Wekesa and Francis Ontomwa,
March 27, 2014(Nairobi) — South Sudan will join Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda in the development of a Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) that seeks to boost regional trade and integration of eonomies of member states. The announcement, which followed a meeting in Nairobi of the Joint Technical Committee (JTC) of the regional railway project, coincided with a reaffirmation by a team of Ugandan Parliamentarians to support completion of the venture. Uganda’s Parliamentary Committee on Trade, Commerce and Industry noted that the network would help reduce cost of transport within East African countries. The team made the remarks during a tour of Mumias Sugar Company in Kakamega County. The JTC brings together senior officials from the relevant ministries and implementing agencies. The meeting noted that the Republic of South Sudan is in the process of acceding to the Tripartite Agreement. ‘There is need to amend the Tripartite Agreement accordingly,” the officials said in a joint report.
The joint meeting held between March 19 and 21 proposed a draft protocol aimed at harmonising all matters relating to the SGR projects in the region. These include policy, legal and institutional frameworks, standards, monitoring and evaluation, research and development and communications strategy.
While on a tour of Kakamega County, Uganda’s Lyantonde District Woman MP Grace Namara noted that development of a railway system that runs across East Africa would significantly reduce the cost of transportation to enable industries to increase productivity. Minimal costs “The railway will help cut transport costs by two thirds because shipping machinery is proving to be a challenge. Our aim as neighbouring countries is to produce what we can manage with minimal costs,’’ she asserted during the visit. On the sugar industry, Namara noted that the cane poaching menace and encroachment on sugar zones were also major problems in the development of the sugar industry in Uganda.
“The challenges are cross-cutting, back home we are faced with cane poaching, encroachment, poor infrastructure and high cost of inputs. This visit will assist us to address some of the challenges and solve problems affecting the country,’’ she noted.
Kenya launches mega $13.8bn railway project, Nov, 2013