South Soudan: Uncertainty over Lamu port as S. Sudan begins railway project

(HornTrade) – Construction of a modern railway  linking South Sudan to Uganda will begin before the end of the year, even as uncertainty clouds the Government’s plans to construct a new port at Lamu; considered a vital sea route for South Sudan’s crude oil exports.

“While the initial plan was to hit the existing Kenyan rail link at Rongai, where we were to build a container terminal. We are now also considering Lamu port,” Castello Garang Ring Lual, special advisor to South Sudan President, Salva Kiir, told The Standard.

He said all the funding, designs and necessary approvals had been obtained, and construction of the rail linking Juba in South Sudan to Gulu and Tororo in Uganda could begin anytime.

The East African Railway project, estimated to cost some $7 billion (Sh560 billion), to be known as East African Railway, will connect Juba in South Sudan to Gulu and Tororo before hitting the exiting Kenya-Uganda Railway, and will have a total length of 725 km.

“Constructing improved haulage links promotes economic upswing and lower prices for consumer goods, creates additional jobs, and helps in transportation of abundant mineral resources,” said ThyseenKrupp Gft Gleistechicnik, the German construction firm managing the project, which is considered one of Africa’s biggest infrastructure undertakings.

Finish discussions

“We intend to put up a new line between Juba and Gulu, before replacing old rail between Gulu and Tororo. I am being pushed by the project managers to finish discussions with Kenyan authorities,” said Garang, who is also chairman of the New Sudan Foundation.

Ayr Logistics, an American financing the rail project from South Sudan to Uganda, has also expressed interest in financing construction of the Lamu port.

“It is now up to authorities in Kenya to decide who and how the new Lamu port is to be constructed,” said Garang.

Some $2-3 billion is to be invested in laying this Juba-Gulu-Tororo rail network, in addition to follow up investments in buildings, roads, hotels, power plants and other infrastructure facilities.

It is expected that Uganda will use the new railway to move its crude oil deposits, which is waxy and, therefore, considered unsuitable for transport through a pipeline.

The new railroad will also facilitate movement of goods and people to and from Juba to any part of the wider East African region, including Mombasa, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti.


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