Kenya inks new deal to extend China-funded high speed railway

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, September 20, 2015
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The Kenyan government on Saturday signed a new agreement that will extend the Mombasa-Nairobi standard gauge railway (SGR) line to Naivasha, a town lies about 120 kms northwest of the capital.

The deal was signed by China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBR) Chairman Wen Gang and Kenya Railways Managing Director Atanas Maina during a Cabinet Steering Committee on SGR meeting chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The extension of the SGR will open up Naivasha, the country's geothermal production centre, for increased economic activities, especially farming.

To attract investors to set up industrial complexes at the specially designated zones near Naivasha's Olkaria, Kenyatta said during the meeting, that the government will offer them subsidized power tariffs. Firms will also have their power connected directly from power plants in Naivasha to ensure uninterrupted supplies.

The president emphasized the need for the contractor to increase local content in the project in terms of materials, equipment and labour. He also asked CRBC to train and employ many youth to ensure that the project will continue running efficiently even after it is handed over to the government.

"We must prepare now to ensure that after completion, we have the requisite skilled manpower to run and maintain the project," Kenyatta said, calling for the two countries, together with the contractor, to pool resources to train skilled youth who will manage and maintain the modern railway system.

The China-funded SGR is a Vision 2030 flagship project in Kenya. It will significantly reduce the transportation costs and save time, and have a direct impact on cost of commodities and generally ease cost of doing business.

The 472km railway is expected to cut by half the time passengers take to travel from Mombasa to Nairobi from the current eight hours to about four and a half hours. Freight trains will reduce the time it takes to move cargo between the two cities to eight hours.

CRBC, the Chinese contractor, has by far employed more than 25,000 local workers and trained over 16,000 Kenyan engineers and technicians since the start of the construction in January this year.

The meeting, held at the proposed Nairobi SGR Terminus site, reviewed the progress of the SGR construction project and agreed that it was on course. Construction of the SGR from Mombasa to Nairobi is scheduled to be completed by June 2017. Endit

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