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PUBLISHED ON October 9th, 2014

Kagame, Museveni, Kiir launch regional standard gauge railway

On the second day of his visit to Uganda, President Paul Kagame attended the launch of the Uganda section of the standard gauge railway that will connect Malaba to Kampala.

The launch marked the beginning of the 7th Summit of the Heads of State of the Northern Corridor Integration Projects.

The Summit, hosted by President Museveni, was also attended by President Salva Kiir of Sudan, Eng. Michael Kamau, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for transport and infrastructure, and Dr Fassil Hahom, minister and legal advisor of Ethiopia.

The Summit was attended by representatives of Burundi and Tanzania, as well as the East African Community.

Launching the railroad, President Museveni pointed to the unprecedented investment in infrastructure and development that the railroad represents.

“We are moving into the real business of developing our country. We are here to launch our region into a new era of cheaper transport and cheaper electricity,” he said.

The railway will join South Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo and will enable trains travel at a speed of 120 kilometers per hour.

It is estimated that the railway will reduce the number of days it takes to transport goods from Mombasa to Kampala to only two days.

President Kagame thanked all involved for the progress and urged the Summit to keep up the momentum.

“We have made good progress but I believe we can do more and even faster. Where there are difficulties, we can form a joint mobilisation campaign and work together to solve challenges,” Kagame said.

During the meeting of Northern Corridor Integration Projects, ministers presented progress made on key sectors including transport, ICT, commodities exchange, energy, immigration, trade as well as defence, peace and security cooperation.

In ICT sector, the Summit committed to developing Regional Overarching Broadband Strategy and operationalise One Network Area by November 1. The network aims to establish one communication network in the region.

Rwanda and Kenya operationalised the network this week, and Uganda is set to join on November 1.

Regarding immigration, the summit recognised the progress made to ease the movement of people within partner states and called on responsible institutions to fast track the implementation of total liberalisation of free movement of labour and services by December 31.

Uganda was urged to scrap work permits for citizens from the other participating countries.

The Summit also called for sustained action to decrease the cost of travel within the region.

Kenya offered to host a meeting, next week, bringing together ministers for transport and operators to expedite the reduction of air travel in the region.

President Kagame ends his visit today with the Independence Day celebrations in Kampala.

Source:: The New Times

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