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Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo Issue Joint Communique Following Standard Gauge Railway Cluster Ministerial Meeting

In a landmark development, the Cabinet Secretary for Roads and Transport, Hon. Kipchumba Murkomen, along with counterparts Hon. Fred Byamukama, Uganda’s Minister of State for Transport, Dr. Jimmy Gasore, Rwanda’s Minister of Infrastructure, and Mr. Roger Te Biasu representing the Minister of Transport of the Democratic Republic of Congo, signed a Joint Communique concluding a week-long SGR Cluster Ministerial Meeting in Mombasa.

The meeting, which concluded earlier this afternoon, marked a historic move towards joint resource mobilization to expedite the completion of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) sections from Naivasha in Kenya to Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, and the DRC. The ministers also aimed to develop a roadmap to fast-track the project’s implementation.

"As a country, we seek to leverage private sector partnerships in the extension of our SGR line to ensure seamless cross-border movement of goods and Kenya is at an advanced stage of changing our legal and policy framework to allow private sector investment in the railway sector, recognizing the limitation of public resources and the need to attract private capital,” stated Hon. Murkomen. "We aim to create special economic zones along the corridor that will transform areas with stop stations into economic hubs," he added.

The CS stated that the joint commitment was in line with the regional plan to extend the SGR to Kampala, Uganda and Kigali, Rwanda and also Juba, South Sudan as pronounced by the Heads of State in August 2013, the signed SGR protocol and tri-partite agreement, and also the East Africa Community Treaty on transport infrastructure development for seamless cross-border transportation of goods and services. “In this regard, the policy focus includes rehabilitating and expanding the railway network, improving freight and passenger services, developing relevant skills for efficient management, and creating a framework for coordination and regulation in partnership with Northern Corridor States,” the CS said.

The CS also emphasized the need to transition the railway sector towards a more environmentally friendly transport system. "The transport sector is one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. We aim to maximize the use of railway and inland transport to reduce emissions, transportation costs, damage to roads, and enhance road safety,” said the CS.

The CS reiterated Kenya’s commitment to commence construction of the SGR from Naivasha to Kisumu and Malaba soon. "We must focus on developing an efficient, reliable, safe, and secure railway transport system for sustainable development. This includes planning inter and multi-modal transport corridors supported by modern technology," emphasized Hon. Murkomen.

The ministers further agreed to harmonise planning and development of inland water transport infrastructure in order to provide seamless multimodal transport services and speed up the review of the Tripartite Agreement on water transport on Lake Victoria.

The meeting concluded with an agreement to jointly mobilize resources for the development and management of SGR transport and service infrastructure. "Our region's attractiveness and competitive edge will be enhanced through the completion of the SGR, benefiting current and future generations," concluded Hon. Murkomen.