The Project involves the development of the infrastructure for commercial maritime transportation, and will be composed of two phases. Phase 1 will focus on setting up a low-cost pilot freight service comprising limited investments in the ports and the launch of suitable vessels that are capable of handling mixed freight consisting of bulk cargo (possibly including liquid cargo), intermodal containers and vehicles. The focus of Phase 2 will be on expansion of the pilot stage activities by means of improving the port facilities. The aim of this Phase 2 is to accommodate larger and more complex freight operations including the provision of dredging services and ‘on shore’ infrastructure services.
As at December 2016, the project is in the preparation stage. The works on the Market Study & Technical Definition and the Economic Impact Assessment began in August 2014 and are complete. The Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) began in January 2015 and the scoping studies for Uganda and Tanzania are complete, with the full ESIA nearing completion. Physical works on the project are expected to commence after the studies have been completed and a final business plan agreed, now targeted for 2017.
The EU-AITF technical assistance (TA) grant will help to fund the first stage of project preparation. One of the key studies is a Bankable Market Forecast Study, which will establish the freight volume for the various types of goods and their respective transport routes to ultimate markets within the Lake Victoria Basin, examine potential port locations, and calculate the current cost of transportation for each category of goods to illustrate the cost advantage that marine transport would generate. An economic impact assessment and a preliminary scoping study on the environmental impacts of the project are also being initiated during this first phase. A TA budget of an additional EUR 1.4m for the co-funding of the remaining preparation work (ESIA, Legal and Institutional Framework Assessment and others) was provisionally approved by the EU-AITF Executive Committee in December 2013. The grant implementation is proceeding according to work plan.