Kampalans welcome revamped passenger train services
- Written by ALFRED OCHWO AND MERCY AHUKANA
Just days after reclaiming management of railway business from Rift Valley Railways (RVR), Uganda Railway Cooperation (URC) last evening re-launched passenger services in and around Kampala city.
This was met with a nod of approval from many Kampalans especially those who have previously had to scramble for taxis during peak hours. According to Abubakari Ochaki, the chief operations officer at URC, a number of things had been wasted during the 12-year management of railway business by RVR. He said assets such as rolling stock had become obsolete and new management is trying to put everything to order.
“We are charged with the entire railway operations and other operations within the cooperation as per the directives by the government through…a meeting held on January 25, where the government [took over railway management from RVR],” Ochaki said.
Yesterday evening, people were filled with joy as URC re-launched passenger services. As early as 5pm, passengers had already started entering either of the five wagons scheduled to make the maiden trip from the city centre to Namanve.
By 5:30, all wagons had been filled and there was the customary hoot as the train set off. Inside the fairly-comfortable wagons, many passengers sat mute, with visibly tired faces.
The wagons were so full that journalists and a number of passengers traveled while standing. One passenger was, however, overheard complementing the move to reintroduce passenger train services, saying that if such a transport system was well-organised, people would not need to congest the city with private vehicles.
There were stops in the townships of Nakawa, Kireka, Bweyogerere and finally Namanve. Ochaki said there will be two daily trips, one in the morning (7am) and another in the evening (5:30pm).
For starters, passengers going between Kampala and Bweyogerere pay Shs 1,000 while those reaching Namanve pay Shs 1,500. Ochaki added that in the next few months, URC plans to introduce more routes such as one from Kampala to Port Bell and another to Kyengera. He said they want to modernize operations to meet world standards.
In the past five years, the defunct RVR launched passenger service trains twice but their operations did not last more than six months on both occasions. This was mainly due to faulty locomotives and other management shortfalls.
Ochaki, however, assured the public that this time round, the service is going to professional and sustainable. The government of Uganda has reportedly promised to fund the cooperation with Shs 3.4 billion every year purposely for passenger services.
The last time I took train like above was early 1987 & almost 3 days from Kampala to Gulu was so long & tiresome in an old train left by the British & never renewed!
Brits pray to pay less on rails & they have modern trains & lines servicing EU cities!
French are holding on to SNCF so that it's not privatised or put in competition with private lines as Macron wants because he says cost of maintainance if too high for government!
French are fighting to uphold their Agriculture & stop government importing meat...from S.America because it's cheaper!
Ugandans Must fight not only for services, but above all, for change of governance & this can only be through Unity because our people have suffered enough: there is no reason for war that will make museveni happy!
This train service should also ease the traffic flow Kampala and we hope to see workers arriving promptly to their desks thereby enhancing productivity.
For the first time let's keep an open mind on this one. Bravo!
How can you equate that welded piece of metal to a train to a revamped train, this train wagon was last used in the 20th Century, its a pity that we are praising it as revamped in the 21st Century and using it to transport human beings.
He said they want to modernize operations to meet world standards.... sounds like the usual NRM rhetoric of middle income status by 2020.
DOES this person really know abt world standard???
when we talk abt world standard uganda is no near that under our lovely government of people born before technology ,world standard we talk bt underground trains like Gautrain,not this kerk.
But at least those governing Ethiopia understand well what modern standards mean.
It needs to request all the VIPs living on these routes + the President himself to start using this waking up public transport system at once. They are the ones who have been growing up destroying it in the first place.