By Joel Ogwang
Rift Valley Railways (RVR), the concessionaire of the Kenya-Uganda railways, have raised $287m (about sh746.2b) to fast-track the revival of the jaded railways services across the two East African countries.
The finances were pooled from a $164m loan, equity ($82m) and cash-flow ($41m). The concession has already injected $156m in the railways service from January 2012 to June 2013.
The funds, according to Cosma Gatere, the RVR director external affairs, were absorbed into upgrading the 2, 300km railway tracks, adopt new technology, operations and refurbishing the rolling stock.
“Many of the railway lines had not received investment in 20-years. In fact, there has been more investment in the past 20 months more than in 20 years preceding the concession,” he said while addressing a media workshop at the Sheraton Kampala Hotel on Wednesday.
RVR that also operates marine vessels between Mwanza and Port Bell has shareholdings from Citadel Capital (51%), Trans Century (34%) and Bomi Holdings (15%).
The concession is keen on turning around the faded fortunes of the railways system whose collapse started in the 1980s due to inadequate investment, resulting in the run-down of infrastructure, dead rolling stock and a bloated workforce.
However, when RVR started passenger services between Kampala and Namanve in 2009, many people were excited about the revival of the railway network since the 1980s when it collapsed in Uganda.
To their dismay, the services didn’t even last a year.
“Passenger services wasn’t part of the concession in 2006,” said Sammy Gachuhi, the RVR general-manager concession.
“We are currently negotiating with government and we hope that before the end of the year, the service will resume.”