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Uganda: Rail and Road Systems
Country Study > Chapter 3 > The Economy > Transportation and Communications > Rail and Road Systems


Uganda's railroad system extended to 1,240 kilometers in the late 1980s, and about 27,000 kilometers of roads reached all areas of the country. About 6,000 kilometers of these were all-weather, including 1,800 of them paved. By 1988 many rail sections needed relaying, regrading, or realigning, and the condition of most road surfaces was very poor. Road transport systems also suffered from an acute shortage of vehicles and spare parts for buses, vans, and trucks. Under the RDP, the government resurfaced more than 4,000 kilometers of roads in 1987 and 1988. Road improvement continued to be a high priority, largely because officials viewed transportation infrastructure as the key to stimulating the rural economy.

The government tried to transfer long-distance traffic, particularly bulky freight, from the dilapidated road system to the rail system operated by the Uganda Railways Corporation. The war years of 1985 and 1986, however, followed by ongoing rebel activity in eastern and northern Uganda, undermined rail performance and disrupted service in these areas. In 1987 workers completed construction on the Nalukolongo Diesel Workshop, which repaired locomotives. In addition, the government purchased 700 wagons and 13 locomotives in 1987. The government also bought a fleet of three wagon ferries for operation on Lake Victoria, shortening the transportation time for wagons and facilitating the opening of the Tanzanian route to the coast. In 1987 these ferries carried over 28,000 tons of exports and imports between Jinja and the Lake Victoria ports of Mwanza and Kisumu. In 1990 rehabilitation of the Kampala-Kasese rail line began, with the aim of promoting agriculture, mining, and oil exploration in western Uganda.

Because of strained relations with Kenya, Uganda tried to reduce its overall dependence on the Kenyan road link to the Indian Ocean by promoting an alternative rail route through Tanzania. Moreover, rail traffic between Kampala and the Kenyan border was irregular, so Ugandan officials hoped to build up the Tanzanian link, despite capacity and rolling stock problems. In 1988 Ugandan and Tanzanian officials began exploring this possibility. Ugandan officials indicated they were prepared to invest in Tanzania's railroad if they could plan on three trains a week from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza.

Data as of December 1990

Last Updated: December 1990

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Uganda was first published in 1990. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

Uganda Main Page Country Studies Main Page

Section 98 of 169


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