Transportation in Uganda

Transportation in Uganda

Expats traveling around Uganda have access to a wealth of transport opportunities, with traffic in the country having increased significantly over the past few years. In particular, you should quickly become familiar with mini bus taxis (also known as matatus), which are particularly popular with backpackers as they provide swift transport to major urban parts of the country.

There are several different kinds of buses available for transport between different areas of the country, including international and domestic public buses, Uganda post buses, and pick-up trucks (for more rural areas, when the roads are just a bit too tricky for matatus). Motorbike taxis (or boda-boda) are another popular form of transport you can find just about anywhere, although in some smaller towns, such as Mbale and Kabale, you can still find them in bicycle form.

Expatriates living in Uganda may also choose to rent their own car complete with an experienced driver, or hire what’s known as a ‘special taxi’ – just be sure to practice your negotiation skills first as prices can be expensive!

For safety reasons, you should not travel between towns after dark, unless traveling between Kampala and Entebbe.

Railways

Total: 1,244 km
metre gauge: 1,244 km 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in) gauge (2008)

Roadways

Total: 70,746 km
paved: 16,272 km
unpaved: 54,474 km (2003)

International highways

The Lagos-Mombasa Highway, part of the Trans-African Highway network and aiming to link East Africa and West Africa, passes through Uganda. This is complete only eastwards from the Uganda–DR Congo border to Mombasa, linking the African Great Lakes region to the sea. It is commonly called the ‘Trans-Africa Highway’ in Uganda.

It cannot be used to reach West Africa because the route westwards across DR Congo to Bangui in the Central African Republic (CAR) is impassable after the Second Congo War and requires reconstruction. An alternative route (not part of the Trans-African network) to Bangui based on gravel roads and earth roads runs from Gulu in northern Uganda via Nimule and Juba, South Sudan and Obo in south-east CAR.

Waterways

Lake Victoria is the principal waterway with commercial traffic. In conjunction with train services, the railway companies of Uganda and Tanzania operate train ferries on the lake between railhead ports of the two countries and Kenya. These ferries load rail coaches and wagons. The safety record has been poor in recent years. Jinja and Port Bell (on a 7 km branch line from Kampala) are the railheads for Uganda, connecting to Mwanza, Tanzania and Kisumu, Kenya.

The Port Bell ferry wharf is visible on high-resolution Google Earth photos at latitude 0.2885° longitude 32.653°. A ferry is shown loading truck and rail coaches while another waits.

Other ferries serve non-railhead ports on the lake.

Lake Kyoga and the Victoria Nile south of the lake constitute the second most important commercial waterway. There used to be a steamboat service between Namasagali, a railhead port on the Nile, going as far as Masindi-Port on the other side of Lake Kyoga.

Other waterways such as Lake Albert, Lake George, Lake Edward, and the Albert Nile do not carry commercial traffic to any great extent.

Airports

Main International Airport: Entebbe International Airport and Soroti Airport
Airports – with paved runways