Government of Uganda under the National Development Plan III has prioritized among others the rehabilitation…
1. FOUR LOCOMOTIVES PROCURED RECENTLY AT UGX 42BILLION:
URC through funding from the Government of Uganda imported four 6yr refurbished locomotives from Grindrod South Africa. Grindrod rail business operates as a division of Grindrod Limited, a 110 years old company listed on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange. The locomotives acquired were purposefully designed as mainline freight locomotives and built in South Africa to operate in Africa. Around 80 of this type of locomotives have been successfully deployed across Africa over the last 10 years by Grindrod.
The Simplified specifications are:
The locomotives have a total wet weight of 106 tons or 18 tons per axel. They have 16 cylinders, 3000 horsepower diesel engines; a single cab, co-co arranged bogies of 3 axels each with direct current traction motors fixed to each axel. There is a PLC based control system to manage the locomotive operation with a Locomotive Display Unit providing all necessary performance and safety data to the driver, including automatic locomotive shutdown in case of emergencies. Safety is further enhanced with an automated driver vigilance system. Automatic datalogging provides for performance review of all measurements of speed and other critical outputs over time and ensure effective usage, monitoring and maintenance of the locomotives. At start up the locomotives generate 380 kilo newtons of tractive effort and up to 300 kilo newtons continuously at 24 km/h. In practical terms this means a single locomotive can haul 750 tons up to 1700 tons trailing load at up to 90 kph depending on the track condition and ruling gradient. The locomotives are also capable of being joined into multiunit operations for the haulage of longer and heavier trains when required.
Train braking is provided by air pressure and a Knorr Bremser CCBII system. The locomotives have both independent and dynamic braking systems. Further engineering enhancements to meet Uganda requirements included, dual buffer system that is unique to Uganda, derailment bars to protect traction motors and larger sand boxes to improve continues tractive effort. Grindrod engineering team is in Uganda to prepare the locomotives for commissioning and to provide maintenance and driver training – this started and has been on for the last one month and will continue until the end of 3 months as per contract. Practical work to establish safe working procedures specific to the URC railway line will commence in two weeks as planned. Factors such as track condition, gradients and curves per section have been evaluated together with the supplier to establish speed and trailing load parameters for operations under the customization plan for the contract. By 15th November, 2021 the training and customization will be over and the locomotives will be ready to start the operations for which they were acquired. Therefore, the locomotives are fit for purpose and will very soon be increasing URC freight capacity from 15,000 Metric tonnes to 40,000 Metric tonnes per month, and after the line is repaired in 10months, this will jump to 120,000 Metric tonnes per month.
2. OTHER ISSUES OF MANAGEMENT
There are allegations of mismanagement. URC is undergoing a transformation exercise since October 2020 when the new Management was put in place. Management has carried out a situation analysis and has documented the problem and challenges facing the entity, their causes and initiatives that will turn around the entity in the next four years following the Government Plan – the National Development Plan III (NDPIII). Some of these changes have been implemented and will continue to be implemented through the URC Transformation Plan 2021-2024. A certain group seems not to accept that we must change the current situation – the transformation process is just beginning and we will onboard everyone along the way.
Concerns about staff allegedly laid off.
Although this exercise’s intention is being skewed to meet a certain negative purpose, it was through a rational and thorough process involving the Government, the Railway Workers’ Union, and all key stakeholders. Contracts for some staff which had expired on 31st December 2020, were not renewed. Staff sent off included many of those over 60yrs of age, and others who were redundant due to low business caused by a poor state of operating assets. 176 employees were paid as agreed with the Union and left, and 376 employees remained. After turning around the Corporation as anticipated in the next four years, URC will recruit the right workforce up to 731 employees. Government has committed funds to the Railway Sector in the NDPIII.
Allegations of illegal sale of URC land:
The new Management is on record for having spearheaded the ongoing land reforms in the Corporation. The objective is to get over this matter once and for all. The Minister of works and transport appointed a Special Committee in December 2020, to investigate URC land. We will continue to work with the Investigation Committee to return all land due to the Corporation. This process will take us more than 2years. Therefore, Management wishes to distance itself from the false information aired by the Union Leadership and has been circulating around in various forms. The above facts can be verified. We appreciate the Government of Uganda for the above investment, those employees who have been resilient and working for this country and our clients who are supporting us through the change process. We promise this country a reliable and efficient railway system to be achieved in this period of NDP III.
For God and my Country.
Stanley Sendegeya (FCCA – Managing Director)