, NAIROBI, May 26 – The management of the Kenya-Uganda railways concessionaire Rift Valley Railways (RVR) Monday maintained that efforts to turnaround the rail service were firmly on course.
While discounting what he termed as sensational media reports RVR Managing Director Roy Puffett explained that the firm had been working on laying the foundation for a successful turnaround while engaging in routine daily operations simultaneously.
The RVR boss said the task ahead was heavy and could only be undertaken within realistic timelines as envisaged in the 25 year-concession agreement signed in November 2006.
He also dispelled rumours that both the Kenya and Uganda governments wanted to exit from the concession agreement, and instead reaffirmed the authorities’ commitment to ensure that the rail service would be among the best in Africa.
“Both the Ugandan and Kenyan governments have distanced themselves from the media reports,” Puffett said.
Puffet disclosed that the company had been regularly engaging and updating the Kenyan and Ugandan governments on the progress made by the firm and at the same time rehabilitating the railway and revamping the rolling stock.
Faced by an appalling railway service at the start of the concession, and in the interest of public and asset safety, Puffet said RVR was forced to reduce the operational speed of all trains leading to a more than 50 percent reduction in the number of derailments.
Puffett explained that investment plans by the firm had fallen behind schedule largely due to the complex nature of the concession.
Both the Kenya and Uganda governments he said were well aware of the reasons leading to the slow processing of the finances from the funding agencies.
He further clarified that RVR’s formal performance evaluation would be undertaken in June 2009.
Puffett said that its traffic volumes, which have to be increased by 25 percent for the period ending June 2009 against volumes carried by both Kenya Railways Corporation and Uganda Railways Corporation prior to the concession start, would be one of the parameters against which RVR’s performance would be measured.
He confirmed that the firm was currently transporting a total of 10 percent of the available cargo shipped through the Port of Mombasa.