Gov’t in Final Stages of Hiring Gulu Logistics Hub Operator

The Uganda Railways Corporation (URC) is in the final stages of hiring a private party to lease, develop and operate the multi-billion Gulu Logistics hub in Gulu City.

Construction of the 8.2 Million US dollars (approximately 31 billion Shillings) facility was completed in December 2021, after commencement in February 2020, and was meant to be in operation by early this year.

Brian Asiimwe, the Project Coordinator of Gulu Logistics Hub from URC however told URN Thursday that the hub remained non-operational due to a number of challenges among them the need to hire a private operator.

He says URC earlier this year called for bids under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement from private entities to operate the facility citing that the first stage of requesting qualification from bidders has already been successfully done.

Asiimwe says the second stage of the bid proposals from selected bidders has also been undertaken pending an evaluation process being jointly undertaken by URC and Trademark East Africa.

According to him, they expect a private operator to be selected to commence the operation of the first phase of the logistics hub by March next year.

The first phase of the project focuses on the establishment of the container yard, container cleaning and repair station, a vehicle holding section, railway siding an administration complex, and an access road.

He notes that the private operator will be expected to invest in the second phase of the project through profits earned in operating the first phase.

The second phase of the logistics hub focuses on the expansion of the hard infrastructure and the development of new facilities that include the expansion of container hard stands, expansion of container freight stations, workshops, and green silos.

Operation of the hub was also further affected by the delayed completion of an access road connecting the hub to the main roads to South Sudan and Kampala, and the refurbishment of the Gulu-Tororo railway line.

Construction of the 2.5-kilometer access road hit a snag mid-this year after project-affected persons (Paps) was blocked by a Chinese firm, Zhongmei Zhongmei Engineering Group Ltd from working on their land pending compensation from the government.

At least 127 landowners were affected by the road works out of which 123 people were paid by the government pending four others who have since refused the contractor to work on their land.

Asiimwe says that the contractor has only registered 42 percent progress on the road since commencing in November last year but was optimistic that by January next year, the works will be complete.

He, however, cast doubt on the timely completion of Tororo-Gulu railway line rehabilitation arguing that once a private operator has been evaluated and access roadworks completed, the hub will start operation in March next year.

On Wednesday, the Northern Uganda State Minister for Rehabilitation Grace Freedom Kwiyucwyiny accompanied by European Union representatives and Gulu City leaders inspected the progress of the Logistic hub construction.

The Minister told journalists at a press briefing that the logistics will help to solve the challenges of exporting agricultural products from the region to neighboring countries. She however challenged the farmers to add value to their products if they are to tap the export markets.

The logistic hub which sits on land measuring 27.76 acres owned by Uganda Railway Corporation was constructed with funds from the European Union and implemented by Trademark East Africa. It is expected to act as a one-stop center for goods that are being transported to neighboring South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Kenya.

The hub will also provide additional services such as tax payment, maintenance and repair, customs inspections, and banking among others, and is expected to handle about 20,000 containers in the first phase. 

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