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Uganda Seeks $976 Million for Railway Rehabilation

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Stanley Sendegeya, the managing director of Uganda Railways Corporation (URC), says the East African country needs over $976 million to finance the rehabilitation of major sections of its century-old metre gauge railway.

The project is expected to be completed by 2026.

The Ugandan government had initially planned to build a new $2.3 billion standard gauge railway project but decided to repair the old rail lines after the project fell through in 2017.

Sendegeya said the $976 million, once secured, would be used to upgrade existing railway lines, construct damaged ones, purchase locomotives, wagons and engines.

Among the routes earmarked for rehabilitation is the busy Kampala-Malaba line which connects the capital city with Kenya at Malaba border crossing and will cost up to $402 million to rehabilitate.

Meanwhile, the Ugandan government has secured $57.3 million loan from the European Union to upgrade and reconstruct the Tororo-Gulu line which hasn’t been in use for decades. This line offers better access to South Sudan, with goods collected at the logistics hub in Gulu which together with the railway line are currently under construction.

Other sections earmarked for either construction or rehabilitation are the Gulu-Pakwach line which will connect to the country’s oil-rich region and to the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

The other line is the Kampala-Kasese, which will connect to the mineral rich Rwenzori area and parts of western DR Congo, to be rehabilitated at a cost of $610 million.

The project also seeks to extend passenger services after the acquisition of new coaches to two different routes away from the single one, which is currently running.

“In the next five years, we expect those places to be serviced by the metre gauge railway as long as the financing is secured,” Mr Sendegeya told The EastAfrican.

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11 Die, 14 Injured in Somalia-Kenya Border Fighting

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No fewer than 11 people have died and 14 others injured in heavy fighting that broke out overnight in a Somali town near the Kenyan border.

The incident in Bulo-Hawo town – between Somali forces and those from the state of Jubbaland, northern Somalia – continued till Monday morning.

Somalia’s Ministry of Information, Posts and Telecommunication in a statement accused Kenya-funded rebels of crossing into the town and attacking federal forces amid rising tensions between the two East Africa neighbours.

Kenya has not yet responded to Somalia’s statement.

Jubbaland vice president, Mohamud Sayid Adan, disclosed that Jubbaland forces stationed outside the town were attacked by what he called forces recently deployed to the region by the government in the capital, Mogadishu.

Both Jubbaland and the federal government have claimed victory.

Somali’s information ministry said federal forces are in control of the town with no fewer than 100 of the suspected rebels surrendering to Somali forces.

Information Minister, Osman Abokor Dubbe, reported that five children were killed and their mother wounded when a mortar round landed on their house.

“Ordinary militias don’t have mortars and missiles,” the minister said. “This is proof that Kenya is arming those rebels.”

Some Somali soldiers had also been wounded but none killed.

Residents say people have begun fleeing the area.

The federal government and Jubbaland’s administration have been engaged in a dispute over the process for elections and control of some regions bordering Kenya.

Somalia last month severed diplomatic relations with Kenya after accusing Nairobi of “blatant interference” in Jubbaland affairs. Kenya denied the accusation.

The regional body, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad), recently sent a fact-finding mission to the border but the findings have not been made public.

Kenyan Internal Security Minister Fred Matiangi described Monday’s fighting as “internal to Somalia and has nothing to do with us (Kenya).

“We are not involved in it and none of our forces has crossed the border to go to Somalia,” he told journalists during a joint press conference with British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace on renewing security agreements.

Kenya’s foreign affairs ministry said in a statement that it had raised its concern about the fighting with the African Union continental body.

“Kenya’s primary concern is that the renewed fighting engenders large-scale displacement of civilians inside Somalia and increasingly generates large numbers of refugees and asylum seekers to Kenya, therefore aggravating the already dire humanitarian situation in Somalia and in the refugee camps in Kenya,” the statement said.

Somalia’s election will hold on February 8, 2021.

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Ugandan Court Rules Against Bobi Wine’s House Arrest

Bobi Wine and his wife Barbra Kyagulanyi, sought unconditional release from house detention following a week-long siege on his home by security.

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The High Court in Kampala has ruled that security forces cannot place presidential challenger Bobi Wine on house arrest.

Bobi Wine and his wife Barbra Kyagulanyi, sought unconditional release from house detention following a week-long siege on his home by security.

The 38-year-old pop star-turned-politician has not been able to leave his home in Magere, Kasangati Town Council after he returned from casting his vote where he ran against long-serving incumbent President Yoweri Museveni.

Ugandan authorities say Bobi Wine can only leave his home on the outskirts of the capital, Kampala, under military escort because they fear his presence in public spaces could provoke revolt.

Rebuking authorities for holding the candidate under house arrest following a disputed election, Justice Michael Elubu said in his ruling that Wine’s home is not an appropriate facility for arrest and noted that authorities should charge him for crimes if he threatens public order.

Lawyer George Musisi said “The judge ordered that the state and its agencies should immediately vacate his property and his right to personal liberty should immediately be reinstated,”

Wine’s friends and supporters celebrated the Judge’s pronouncement, it however remains uncertain if authorities will respect the judge’s where similar orders have been ignored in many cases concerning opposition leaders.

Official results show that Museveni won the election with 58% of the vote while Wine had 34%. Wine insists he has evidence to prove that the military subverted popular will by casting ballots for voters and chasing voters away from polling units thereafter.

Wine has accused Museveni of staging a “coup” in the just concluded election urged his supporters to protest against his loss through nonviolent means.

Museveni has dismissed allegations of vote-rigging, calling the election “the most cheating-free” since independence from Britain in 1962.

The January 14 election was marred by pre-election violence resulting in the vehicular blockade, threats to life, death of over fifty citizens, and disruption of opposition political itinerary, campaign as well as an internet blockade that remained in force for five days. Social media sites remain restricted.

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More Refugees Flee Crisis in Ethiopia into Sudan’s Blue Nile State

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No fewer than 400 Ethiopian refugees have crossed into Sudan’s Blue Nile State in the past few days due to incidents in Ethiopia’s Tigray and Beni Shangul regions.

This was disclosed by Al-Jaili Al-Hindi Al-Sharif, an official of the Sudanese Commission for Refugees in the Blue Nile State.

Al-Sharif said the refugees have settled in Babajar, Gezira, Menza and Al-Daim areas.

He said officials of the Commission for Refugees have made field visits together with the concerned authorities to determine the required needs and assistance, explaining that “the situation is under control”.

A registration process continues to settle the refugees and to preserve their properties.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has been expressing deep concern over the humanitarian situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.

The conflict between the Ethiopian Government and regional forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) began in early November, when the Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, ordered a military offensive after rebels attacked a federal army base.

Government forces reported that the region had been secured at the end of November, but TPLF resistance has continued amid accusations of extrajudicial killings and rights abuses.

More than 50,000 refugees are said to have crossed the border into Sudan since the conflict started.

Meanwhile, Ethiopia has strongly condemned reports that it is “using hunger as a weapon”.

The Ethiopian government said it had mobilised and delivered over 31,000 tons of food, non-food items and medical supplies to Tigray Region in the past month.

Besides, it added, it is putting in place “necessary security protocols to protect civilians, stabilise the region and capture remaining suspects of treasonous crimes”.

ENA said the Ethiopian National Defence Force and other security institutions had “demonstrated exceptional courage and skill” in the military operation against TPLF.

“There is a delicate and cautious balance that is to be observed in guaranteeing basic necessities while maintaining security in Tigray Region. Federal agencies, utility companies and other service providers are working at full speed to restore services in the region,” an official statement said.

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