By our reporter
Internal fights over jobs and money are to blame for the challenges affecting Uganda Railways Corporation-URC, the State Minister for Transport, Fred Byamukama has revealed. He revealed this during his visit to the URC station in Kampala to inspect the ongoing repairs of the triangular section and newly acquired locomotives.
The visit stemmed from reports indicating that the Shillings 48billion locomotives are incompatible with the old Uganda rail system. According to officials from the Uganda Railways Corporation Workers Union, among them engineers, the locomotives were designed to run on 90-ton rails yet the current railway line is designed for only 80 tons.
They also argue that the triangular section of the railway is small for the new long locomotives. URC has however said the failure for the train to turn is exaggerated, saying that this is what they are currently working on before they can kick start operations of the train.
URC Civil Engineer Geoffrey Obara says they are undertaking spot track improvement and modification to the triangles or turn points for the locomotives to operate safely. They expect to complete the works by November 15, 2021.
He also says it is not true that the locomotive cannot run on the current railway lines.
Stanley Sendegeya, the Managing URC Director URC when asked why the triangular section is still being worked on after the purchase of the locomotive, said that they are within their program. He said the locomotives would move on 15 November.
He says what they are doing now is customization. He says more triangular sections in Jinja and Tororo among others are being fixed as well.
However Fred Byamukama, the Transport State Minister notes that the whole challenge in the sector is a result of infighting especially for money and jobs. He says that the Government is currently investigating the resignation of the Engineer, Julius Musiimenta who procured the locomotives.
He says that the whole situation at the corporation will be investigated, saying those who do not want to work and are focusing on infighting will be sent home.
He says that he has got assurance that the locomotives will work, saying he will return to witness the flag off. On his part Sendegeya, the URC Managing Director says that those who are fighting will not sustain it especially with distortion of information.
Recently, the management of URC laid off close to 200 staff in line with a decision from the board. Union workers say that the workers did not get a fair hearing and some left without their benefits. Sendegeya is barely two years in office after replacing Charles Kateba.