One of the oldest and longest railway lines in Africa is on the verge of collapse due to poor management, lack of support from the financial sector and lack of political goodwill from the Kenyan and Ugandan governments.

Rift Valley Railways (RVR), a consortium of foreign investors led by the South African-based Sheltham Group which runs the Kenya-Uganda railway, has been forced to admit that it is no longer able to provide passenger and goods services from the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa to Nairobi and then to Kampala on Lake Victoria some 900 km away.

The crisis is adversely affecting Mombasa, where there is a huge backlog of containers waiting to be offloaded from ships or transported inland. Passenger services on the Mombasa-Nairobi-Kisumu route have also been suspended.

Two years ago RVA signed a 25-year contract with the Kenyan and Uganda governments to take over the running of the over 100-year-old railway built by the British colonial government and nicknamed