Forwarders Association (UFFA) said currently Uganda’s transport systems is not integrated and this does not help to reduce traffic congestion.
Uganda needs to develop an integrated transport system where roads, railway, water and air transport link with each other. Jennifer Kabanyana Mwijukye, chairperson the Uganda Freight Forwarders Association (UFFA) said currently Uganda's transport systems is not integrated and this does not help to reduce traffic congestion.
Uganda also faces many logistical challenges in moving goods and services within and from across her borders due to poor infrastructure. Due to Uganda not having a port of its own, lengthy road transport has to be used to move cargo from Mombasa and Dar es Salaam into the country.
UFFA, the Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum (UCMP), the ministry of works and transport have drawn up plans to turn around Uganda's logistics night mare into an economic and social opportunity. The strategy to position Uganda as a regional logistics hub within the context of a logistics centred economy features as a key national development strategy.
This was during a meeting held last week to launch the first Regional Logistics Expo 2017 at Sheraton Kampala Hotel. UCMP, the ministry of works and transport are organizing the first Regional Logistics Expo 2017. It is scheduled to take place from 25th to 27th April at the Kampala Serena Hotel.
The theme for the expo is: ‘Transforming Uganda into a regional logistics hub-What is your role'. Mwijukye noted that one of the ways to get Uganda to become a regional logistics hub is by improving logistics services in key districts outside Kampala close to South Sudan and DR Congo.
"It would be cheap for South Sudan to pick their cargo from Gulu district and for DR Congo to pick their cargo from Kasese district. This would save the millions of containers stored in Kampala for re-export. It would also create more jobs outside Kampala," Mwijukye said.
Mwijukye added that there were many interventions happening in the logistics sector but they are not integrated. She explained that the roads, rail and air transport were being developed in isolation. An integrated transport system can reduce traffic jams," she remarked.
"When you build a road, you have to link it to the service that road will provide, not the road alone. We need an integrated or intermodal transport infrastructure, that means the roads, rail, water and air transport have to link with each other".
Adding: "The standard gauge railway should be linked to airport. Roads link to water transport. A person should be able to move by water from Kampala to Entebbe, it can ease the traffic congestion, save people from missing flights," Mwijukye noted. She said the logistics sector in Uganda employs over 208,000 people but with growth in the sector the employment can rise.
Elly Karuhanga, President UCMP explained that a hub is a central place for distribution of goods and services. Karuhanga said Kenya has become a regional hub for air transport. He wondered why Kenya has 11 airports, Uganda has one and why it takes too long to get an air license to operate in Uganda, which he said has affected the movement of agriculture produce from Uganda.
Karuhanga said with $8b expected to be invested in the standard gauge railway construction, and $20b in the oil and gas industry, there were many opportunities for Ugandans to participate in the logistics and transport sector, to provide food, hotel and many services needed during the construction.
"Ugandans need to participate in these activities and not be on lookers. We need to prepar ourselves for local content, if not all the opportunities will be lost to foreign companies," Karuhanga said.
Gerald Eking, principal economist/statistician ministry of works and transport said transport and logistics play an important role to enable goods and services move to their final destination. "All activities have to be coordinated to ensure Uganda becomes a regional logistics hub. We need the Civil Aviation Authority on board," Ekinu said. Ekinu said Master Plan on Logistics in Northern Economic Corridor has been developed by the EAC partner states has been developed and is awaiting cabinet approval.
Irene Nakalyango, the chief executive officer of the UCMP said Uganda has a great opportunity to handle increased volumes of cargo. Nakalyango said the strategy to position Uganda as a regional logistics hub gives an opportunity to raise Uganda's investment profile with increased inflow of foreign investors.
"It will also create a favourable environment for the local investors to take advantage and engage in investments at home due to the efficient flow of logistics services in the region," Nakalyango said.
She noted that a high performance logistics centred economy means investors can receive world class services which can improve project delivery, ease the trade and create jobs.