Uganda has announced plans to start constructing its standard gauge railway (SGR) later this year after it apparently dropped an earlier condition that required Kenya to extend its track to the border first.
The 273-kilometre track linking the capital Kampala to Kenya's border town of Malaba will be built at a cost of $2.3 billion, local media quoting government sources said.
The first phase, which will take 40 months to be implemented by China Harbour Engineering Company, will commence later this year after the Ugandan government received funding from China Export-Import Bank.
Bloomberg quoted project co-coordinator Kasingye Kyamugambi as saying that it would take 40 months to complete the line.
Kenya has finished civil works on the first phase of its SGR, the 472-kilometre track from Mombasa to Nairobi, which will be commissioned in June, paving the way for construction of the second phase extending to Naivasha.
The SGR is expected to cut transport costs to Uganda and other landlocked states that rely on Kenya's ports.
In his New Year message, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said the SGR "will bring the cost of transport for a 32-tonne container to Mombasa from $3,500 by road, to $1,650 by railway in a record one-day journey compared to the traditional 21 days".
It is estimated that the track from Nairobi to Naivasha via Ol Karia's geothermal fields will cost $1.37 billion.
Kenya has also announced plans to put up an industrial park near Ol Karia to enable export-oriented industries to enjoy access to cheap reliable electricity.