THE END OF THE RAIL ROAD FOR RVR?
(Posted 06th April 2017)
Sources from Nairobi have suggested that political motives led to the termination of the concession agreement for Rift Valley Railways, served on the company by Kenya Railways but notably not Uganda Railways, the other partner in the equation.
‘You know how our minds work. This is obviously aimed to protect Kenya’s investment in the new SGR (short for Standard Gauge Railway) and avoid being sued for loss of business or compensation under the concession KR has signed several years ago. You in Uganda will be the big loser if this stands up in court because if RVR’s operations are halted, who will operated the trains when injunctions are served and the legal process to sort this mess out may take years to resolve?‘ wrote the source in addition to the facts transmitted.
RVR apparently failed to obtain a preventative injunction in time to serve on Kenya Railways halting the termination.
Rift Valley Railways has again been in the doldrums when 85 percent majority shareholder Qualaa of Egypt signaled their intention to divest from the company rather than pumping in more funds.
Hundreds of millions of US Dollars have been spend in recent years by the shareholders and financiers to boost the RVR locomotive fleet and rolling stock, upgrade accident prone sections of the narrow gauge railway in Kenya and Uganda, introduce automated cargo tracking systems, simulator training for new drivers and launch two track repair and maintenance units on wheels to speed up regular line maintenance.
All eyes will now be on the RVR shareholders, Qualaa with 85 percent and Uganda’s Bomi Holdings with 15 percent linked to prominent Ugandan business man Charles Mbire and how they will proceed, perhaps by bringing in a new shareholder with deep pockets to bail the company out and fasttrack not just a revival but also ensure that concession terms are fully met vis a vis royalty payments and cargo uplifts.
Otherwise it may well be the end of the rail road for RVR which had a tumultuous start under the regime of Sheltam of South Africa, led by controversial and cantankerous Roy Puffet who nearly wrecked the company with his ego before Qalaa’s predecessor Citadel managed to acquire the Sheltam stake and push him out.