Four lenders have agreed to finance the construction of a two-phase 77-kilometer tolled highway project in Uganda linking the capital Kampala to the industrial eastern city of Jinja.

The European Union, International Finance Corp., France’s AFD and African Development Bank, will provide a mix of grants and credit of up to $400 million for the $1.1-billion project designed to speed up freight flow to landlocked Rwanda, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi from Mombasa port in Kenya.

State-run Uganda National Roads Agency (UNRA) head of design Patrick Muleme said in January that the next step in financing is the approval by the lenders’ respective boards. The private sector will provide an additional $300 million.

UNRA is expected to issue final bid documents by year-end for the design, build, finance, operate, maintain and transfer contract for the highway, which will reduce journey time between Kampala and Jinja by 70 minutes.

The asphalt-paved highway will have four lanes in the first three kilometers, three lanes for the next 17 km and two lanes for the remaining 57 km with a design speed up to 120 kph. The lanes will be 3.5 m wide for sections within urban areas and and 3.7 m wide for rural stretches of the highway with shoulders 3.5 m wide and 3.65 m for the link and connector roads.

The highway project, with an estimated 13 junctions and 42 vehicle underpasses and overpasses, is expected to create 1500 jobs during construction and 250 jobs during operations — the majority for Ugandans.

UNRA says in a previous project brief the Nakivubo wetland will be the biggest challenge for the project contractor but it had initially proposed two viaducts to keep the swamp as a free flowing system. It is not clear whether the contractor will retain the proposal.