February 2, 2015

Chinese Firm commits to building Standard Gauge Railway

China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) has reaffirmed its commitment and interest in building sections of the Standard Gauge Railway in Uganda.

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This commitment was made by the President of CHEC, Mr. Lin Yichong in a meeting with the Parliamentary Select Committee on Standard Gauge Railway at the company headquarters in Beijing, China, on Monday, 26th January 2015.

Yichong said that the company has a lot of experience in the construction industry especially in the railway industry following their work in China.

“We have experience from China and we have been involved in building over 4,000km of rail both in China and other parts of the world,” he said.

Mr. Yichong also revealed that unlike what had been reported, the company intends to use local materials and labour from Uganda. He added that CHEC had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces for training of construction workers with the establishment of a college in Tororo.

“CHEC is committed to enhancing Ugandan economy by building and boosting the local industries, employing of Ugandans and ensuring minimum damage to the environment,” Yichong added.

When asked by the Maruzi County MP Hon. Akora Maxwell if Ms. Rosa Whitaker was involved in trying to source for a contract for CHEC,   the Senior Advisor of CHEC Mr.  Michael Orlando Blackburn denied that they had any relationship with her.

“We do not have any contract or contact with Rosa Whitaker. We also got to know her when this whole issue blew up,” Blackburn said.

He also added that no contract had been signed with the Government of Uganda since no progress had been made following the pronouncements by the East African Presidents.

Later in the day, the Committee met with the Deputy Director General in the Chinese Ministry of Transport Ms. Tang Guomei at the Ministry headquarters to seek clarity on the capacity of CHEC to handle the project.

Ms. Guomei clarified to the Committee that her Ministry had recommended China Harbour Engineering Company only in the process of seeking to build the Standard Gauge Railway.

“The Ministry of Transport only recommended CHEC and does not know any other company but they could have had their own way of competing to get the contract,” she noted.

She also revealed that CHEC had the capacity to mobilise resources since they had a long standing relationship with the Chinese Import and Export Bank, China Bank of Development and several commercial banks that support Chinese contractors in securing contracts overseas.

Hon. Sekitoleko said that Uganda is interested in many Chinese companies but they need to do their work transparently and competitively.

Members of the Committee who are in China till 31st January 2015 include the Committee Chair Hon. Ssekitoleko, Hon. Clement Ongalo Obote (NRM, Kalaki), Hon. Rosemary Nyakikongoro (Ind., Sheema district), Hon. Patrick Amuriat (FDC, Kumi), Hon. Xavier Kyooma (NRM, Ibanda North) and Hon. Suzan Amero (NRM, Amuria district).

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