Phase 1 of Kenya SGR awaits inauguration by President

Mombasa terminus of the SGR in Miritini
Ongoing works at the Mombasa terminus of the SGR in Miritini on March 22, 2017. PHOTO/COURTESY
China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) has completed construction of the Mombasa to Nairobi standard gauge railway, paving the way for its official opening by President Uhuru Kenyatta on May 31.

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, in a recent tour of the railway, indicated that major works in all sections had been completed with workers doing a few final touches and exuded confidence that the railway was ready for the president’s trip.

“Several test runs have been conducted on both the infrastructure and equipment to check their delivery and ensure they meet the expected standards ahead of the president’s trip and launch of commercial operations from June 1,” Mr Macharia said in a press briefing.

The successful delivery of the 472-kilometre project has been attributed to the concerted effort of at least 35,000 thousand men and women comprising professionals, semi-skilled and unskilled workers who worked on the project concurrently.

The tight deadline set during the November 28, 2013 launch made the project a race against time and workers had to make a lot of sacrifices including working at night.

“Every three months, the president would convene a meeting of all stakeholders, including the CRBC.

“The senior executives from China would fly here as a matter of duty and come and sit with us where each party would account to what extent they have been successful in implementing their accountabilities,” Mr Macharia said.

Focus is now shifting to the second phase, from Nairobi to Naivasha, which Mr Macharia anticipates will be a bit more challenging due to the very rough terrain of the Great Rift Valley.

The project, which has been under construction since November 2013, is 472.3 kilometres long – 442.6 kilometres of which run at grade and the remaining 29.7 kilometres comprising the total bridge length.

The Mombasa-Nairobi standard gauge railway project is 90 per cent funded by the China Exim Bank, with Kenya financing the remaining 10 per cent.

The railway line is designed with an axleload of 25 tonnes and is expected to move up to 22 million tonnes of cargo per year at a speed of 80-100km/hr for freight trains. Passenger trains are, on the other hand, expected to achieve speeds of up to 120km/hr.

The second phase of the Mombasa-Nairobi railway, which is set to cost Sh153 billion, will extend to Naivasha and will eventually be extended to Malaba, western Kenya, from where it will link up with the Uganda SGR line and ultimately extend to Kigali in Rwanda.

In November, the government announced fresh plans for the electrification of the Mombasa-Nairobi line, which will cost Sh49 billion.

Transport and Infrastructure CS James Macharia said 609 kilometres of railway track would be made electric following a deal reached with Uganda and Rwanda.

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