September 26, 2018—Gulu town in Northern Uganda, is to get a new $8.8 million trade logistics hub with money being provided by the European Union (EU) and the British Department of International Development (DfID).
The project is to be implemented by non-profit trade consultancy firm, TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) which has regional headquarters in Nairobi, but country offices in the East African Community member states.
Damali Ssali, the TMEA Uganda acting country director said early this week, “The Hub is expected to improve capacity of transport infrastructure in Northern Uganda to serve markets in South Sudan, Northern Uganda and parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), enhance efficient management of freight transport through Northern Uganda and improve capacity to handle containers and other cargo in Gulu.”
The transport and works ministry and specifically Uganda Railways Corporation will operate the proposed facility. The main objective of the Hub is to help reduce barriers to trade between Northern Uganda and the neighbouring countries of South Sudan and the DRC.
The Gulu Logistics Hub (GLH) will serve the trade corridors of Kampala – Gulu – Elegu/Nimule – Juba Trade Corridor; and Gulu – Pakwach Goli/Pader/Lira/Vurra DRC Trade Corridor.
In recent years Uganda has played a vital role as a distribution hub for South Sudan and eastern DRC. A World Bank study (Uganda Diagnostic Trade Integration Study) highlights that importers in South Sudan and DRC keep supplies in bonded facilities in Kampala, and bring them into either country as and when needed, but with assurances of shorter lead times.
As a result, Uganda has seen transit volumes grow, which has led to the emergence of a distribution industry especially in Jinja and Kampala. Yet, the route to South Sudan and DRC passes through Northern Uganda, which is one of the country’s four major administrative regions, with Gulu as its regional capital.
Currently, truck drivers delivering imports to Uganda return with empty containers, undermining efforts to grow the country’s export sector. For example a truck delivering cosmetics in Uganda from Mombasa can return to the coast with grain. However, the driver needs to pick the grain from one place which saves time.
The northern region depends on other distribution hubs established around Kampala and Jinja, or on goods moving directly to their destination markets through Northern Uganda.
Officials said when opened the Gulu Logistics Hub is expected to address some of these issues that hamper distribution of cargo in Northern Uganda South Sudan, parts of the DRC. They also expect efficient management of freight transport through Northern Uganda and improved capacity to handle containers and other cargo in Gulu.