The leaders of Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda have today agreed to revamp the existing railway network and construct a new standard gauge line in a move to ease movement of goods in the region.
In a joint communiqué read by Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa, the three countries agreed that the railway line would be constructed starting from Kenya, Uganda and then extended to Rwanda with resources mobilized from within.
Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya also made a decision to develop two oil pipelines. These include the existing one that brings products from Mombasa to Eldoret in Kenya and the new one proposed from Hoima in Uganda to Eldoret.
The pipeline would be configured such that it has a reverse mechanism to allow finished products to be pumped backwards. The second one would be constructed for evacuation of crude oil when it starts flowing between Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan and ending up in the Port of Lamu.
The East African partner states agreed in principle to invest in the refinery in Uganda and it should explore details of how it would be undertaken. They also agreed that the East African countries should work on electricity generation and distribution and explore utilizing other sources of renewable energy.
At the tripartite talks in Entebbe on Tuesday, the three presidents also agreed that the East African countries form and strengthen a customs territory and implement all the provisions where taxes will be collected at one entry point. It is agreed that all taxes will be paid upon the arrival at the point of entry of a particular territory.
Despite the absence of other East African Community leaders, Presidents Museveni, Kagame and Kenyatta in their meeting also agreed to work for the fast tracking of the East African Federation. They noted that there has been a slow motion in the Federation thus the need to speed up the process and make sure it is completed.
They agreed to have an East African identity card which is already done in other countries apart from Uganda to enable East Africans travel freely within the region, and a single East African Tourism Visa.
Dividing their roles to achieve the above measures, Uganda will spearhead the railway development, oil refinery and political federation. Kenya will spearhead electricity generation and distribution and oil pipelines development, while Rwanda will handle customs territory, single tourism Visa and the EAC identity card.
Starting August this year, the first committee meeting will be held in Nairobi followed by another one in October in Kigali to review progress of implementation.