Uganda is expected to name the contractors for its 1614km Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) network next week as the Ministry of Works moves to beat a July 9 deadline for that phase of the procurement process.
This follows the signing of an SGR Protocol by Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan in Nairobi on May 11.
The signing took place on the sidelines of Kenya’s conclusion of a financing agreement for its portion of the network with the Chinese government during a visit to Nairobi by Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang.
The region set October 2014 as the commencement date for construction of all segments of the regional SGR network that will run from Mombasa through Malaba to Kigali and Juba.
The EastAfrican has learnt that President Yoweri Museveni is scheduled to give technocrats authorisation to enter into substantive negotiations with the China Harbour and Engineering Corporation (CHEC) and the China Civil Engineering and Construction Corporation (CCECC) for construction of the northern and western sections of the network respectively.
The Works Ministry also wants him to instruct the Ministry of Finance to include Ush545 billion ($212.7 million) provision in the next budget for what is being described as project precursor activities.
The proposed budget would among other things cover acquisition of the right of way, engineering and social studies as well as design review and quality assurance.
In a series of recent correspondence seen by this paper, Junior Works Minister John Byabagambi has prepared proposals, which will guide President Museveni endorsing a work share arrangement that allocates the western section to CCECC and the eastern and northern sections to CHEC.
According to Mr Byabagambi, MoUs with the two firms will be signed by July 9.
“A lot of progress has been made especially since the signing of the SGR Protocol by the partner states in Nairobi this month,” said Ministry of Works Spokesperson Susan Kataike.
“One of the contractors with whom we have a MoU is not in agreement with the proposed work share allocation. They have threatened to take us to court and we are awaiting the expiry of a notice of termination we served on the firm so we can enter into fresh negotiations with them for the western section,” she said.
The three-months notice that the government served CCECC in April expires on July 10.
It is understood that President Museveni has taken a firm decision that the work should be shared out between the two contractors but CCECC insists on enforcing its rights under the original MoU.
In earlier correspondence, Mr Byabagambi said the MoU had to be terminated because procurement for the project would be at a regional level, a position that later shifted when it emerged that each country would be responsible for its own procurement.
The termination has also been opposed by the Attorney General who said such action would be costly for Uganda.