Construction of the 472km Mombasa-Nairobi standard gauge railway line is due to start next month, the government has said.
Infrastructure Principal Secretary John Mosonik said Tuesday during a tour of the project mobilisation site in Mariakani, Mombasa, that preparations are in top gear and the project will begin as scheduled.
“We expect to commence construction by October. Currently we are on the preparation stage and I am optimistic the project will be delivered on time despite challenges,” said Mr Mosonik.
The Mariakani site, which is 60 percent complete, comprises a concrete mixing plant, laboratories to be used by the contractor – China Road & Bridges Construction (CRBC) – and a camp-site for the contractor’s staff. It will also host the Kenya Railway Corporation officials who will be overseeing the construction of the project.
Similar sites will be built in Samburu, Mtito Andei, Kathekani and Nairobi.
The Sh348 billion standard gauge railway line will carry freight trains at speeds of up to 80km/hour and passenger trains at up to 120km/hour.
A standard gauge railway has a distance of 56.5 inches between its rails or between the wheels of a train.
The project is 90 per cent funded by the China Exim Bank, with the Kenyan government financing the remaining 10 per cent.
The Mombasa-Nairobi line is expected to be extended to Malaba, western Kenya, into Uganda and ultimately to Kigali in Rwanda on completion scheduled for 2017.
The viability of the railway line that will be built according to the Chinese railway designs is based on the assumption that it will be part of a seamless system linking Kenya with Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda.