Six freight locomotives to be deployed on the Standard Gauge Railway have arrived at Mombasa port from China.
Offloading of the locomotives aboard vessel carrier MV Kota Bistari at the Port of Mombasa started Monday. The first train was offloaded onto a rail track laid alongside berth 11 at the Port at around midday.
The locomotives have been covered with white tarpaulin material as they await their unveiling by Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia Wednesday.
Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) Managing director, Ms Catherine Mturi- Wairi led the Port fraternity in witnessing the intricate process of offloading the gigantic locomotives.
It was a beehive of activity at the Port area as ship mounted cranes lifted the locomotives out of the vessel hull onto a new rail track.
Two staff who were part of the team involved in offloading were slightly injured and taken to hospital.
Kenya Railways Managing Director Atanas Maina said that the second batch of locomotives will arrive in the country next month.
“We shall have four freight engines and two passenger locomotives,” he said.
He said that the production of passenger coaches is ongoing with their arrival in Kenya expected next month or March, 2017.
Maina said that already over 600 kilometres of rail track which includes marshalling yard and train station exchanges have been completed.
Kenya Railways, which is developing the new standard gauge line for passengers and cargo transportation, has procured a total of 56 locomotives, 40 passenger coaches and 1,620 wagons as part of the rolling stock.
The new railway line constitutes the first phase of the SGR project that aims to connect Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan.
The Mombasa-Nairobi SGR is the biggest infrastructure project in Kenya since independence.
Maina said that already the construction of railway stations along the SGR line from Mombasa to Nairobi is 97.13 per cent while installation of signaling facility along the rail network is at 88.89 per cent.
“Other key items on the rail track construction like pile foundation, pier development, beam erection, sleeper manufacture, track panel assembly are all at 100 per cent complete,” Maina said.
The SGR line will shorten the passenger travel time from Mombasa to Nairobi from more than ten hours to a little more than four hours.
Freight trains will complete the journey in less than eight hours.
The SGR is a flagship project under the Kenya Vision 2030 development agenda.
It will simplify transport operations across the borders and reduce travel costs thus benefiting the economies of Kenya and the neighbouring countries.