By Jeff Lule
and Cecilia Okoth
THE governments of Uganda and Sudan have signed an agreement to improve transport links between the two countries.
The pact will cover the construction of four major roads and a railway line linking the two countries to the African continent.
The agreement was signed by the transport minister of South Sudan, Anthony Mukana, and his Ugandan counterpart, Eng. John Nasasira, at the works ministry headquarters in Kampala last week.
â€œThe agreement is aimed at improving the efficiency of transport links between the two countries. We want smooth accessibility between the two countries and to connect to the entire continental transport network,â€ Nasasira said.
They agreed to first develop a tarmac road from Gulu to Juba, which would cost about sh1.3trillion.
Nasasira said upgrading the Gulu-Nimule road will cost $160m (about sh333b), to be funded by the Ugandan government, while the Nimule-Juba road is to cost $400m (about sh832b). It will be funded by the Southern Sudan government.
Southern Sudan has already started tarmacking part of the road, while Uganda is expected to do so later this year.
Nasasira said the Government had also developed a plan to create a new road from Kaabong to Lotukei in Southern Sudan.
â€œWe are already designing the 150km road from Kaabong to Lotukei in Sudan. It is not easy because it passes through various wildlife parks, which the wildlife authority has to approve.
â€œWe are also going to work on the Kitgum-Ikotos and Arua-Kaya-Yei roads,â€ he said.
Nasasira added that the two countries also agreed to develop a railway link to other countries and improve the air transport facilities.
â€œFeasibility studies for developing a standard gauge railway line will begin soon. We need it to link us to the entire continent and boost trade,â€ he said.
He stressed that the roads are important for the development of the northern region.
Makana thanked the government of Uganda for accepting to work on a joint venture to improve the transport system, saying it was a key to development.
â€œUganda is important to us and we think this will boost trade between the two countries and improve relations. We are already working on the 1,200km railway line from Wau in Sudan to Pakwach in Uganda,â€ Makana said.
â€œThe line will draw Rwanda, Burundi and others on board, which will help us come up with strategies on how to manage our resources like oil in the regional market,â€ Makana noted.