Ministers from the four countries that constitute the Northern Corridor Integration Project (NCIP) yesterday expressed satisfaction on progress registered so far ahead of Heads of State summit today.
Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and South Sudan, are the four countries that are part of the initiative.
Infrastructure Minister James Musoni told The New Times in Kampala that the construction of the much envisaged Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) to connect Mombasa to Kigali was on good course.
“We have contracted a company to do the alignment to identify a proper line that leads to Kigali. We are now also connecting it to Bugesera International airport,” he said, adding that the work on the Kenyan side has so far registered progress.
The Minister said that Rwanda has approached China’s Exim Bank both at bilateral and regional level to provide a loan for the construction of its section.
“We have also made good progress in terms of power connectivity in the region - our meeting has reaffirmed commitment to expedite the process,” he added.
John Byabagambi, Uganda’s Transport Minister said that although Exim Bank has accepted to provide the loan, Uganda was still at the level of negotiating the terms. He was upbeat that the construction works from Malaba to Kampala would kick off between July and September this year.
“Kenya will not cross any river but Uganda will need 42 months to complete a one kilometer bridge at River Nile. However, we have agreed that Uganda starts construction a year earlier than the Naivasha – Malaba section,” he said.
During the 12th Summit in Kigali last year, the Heads of State directed ministers to finalise preparation of bankable project proposals for the remaining sections on the Eastern, Western and Southern routes and Mirama-Kigali section.
For Valentine Rugwabiza the EAC Affairs Minister, the Ministers would also report on a regional warehousing system.
She said although there had been a number of misunderstandings between partner states on the value of keeping the system, an agreement had been reached.
“There was a misunderstanding because this represented a risk to countries with ports in terms of linkages. We have been able to discuss that and sorted it out by providing all the guarantees necessary,” she said.
Kenya’s Lands Minister Professor Jacob Kaimenyi said that for land acquisition to be successful, a number of amendments to land laws of the four countries had been forwarded to their respective Attorney Generals for review.
“If the NCIP is to be successful, we have to work on the land that will accommodate these projects. We hope these amendments will be fast tracked,” he said.
South Sudan’s Telecommunications Minister Rebecca Okwaci said that her country has keen interest in the areas of the Standard Gauge Railway, ICT, land and electricity.
“How we are benefiting is that we don’t have to reinvent the will. We are benefiting by customizing and updating what our partners have in place already because time is running out,” she said.
Burundi, Ethiopia, and Tanzania are among the countries expected to attend as observers at today’s summit.
Bodies such as East African Community (EAC), the Northern Corridor Transit Transport Coordination Authority and the Regional private sector will also be represented.