Six freight locomotives to be deployed on the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) have arrived at the Port of Mombasa from China.
Offloading of the locomotives aboard vessel carrier MV Kota Bistari began yesterday. The first train was offloaded onto a rail track laid alongside Berth 11 at the port at around mid-day.
The locomotives will be officially unveiled by Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia tomorrow.
Kenya Ports Authority Managing Director Catherine Mturi-Wairi led the port fraternity in witnessing the intricate process of offloading the gigantic locomotives.
The port was a beehive of activity as ship-mounted cranes lifted the locomotives out of the vessel hull onto the new rail track.
Two staff who were part of the team involved in helping with the offloading were slightly injured and taken to hospital.
Kenya Railways Managing Director Atanas Maina said the second batch of locomotives would arrive in the country next month.
"We shall have four freight engines and two passenger locomotives," he said.
The production of passenger coaches is ongoing and importation is expected next month or in March.
Mr Maina said over 600km of the rail track, which includes the marshalling yard and train station exchanges, had 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.
Already, Maina said, the construction of stations along the SGR line from Mombasa to Nairobi was at 97.13 per cent while installation of signals along the rail network was at 88.89 per cent.
"Other key items on the track construction programme like pile foundation, pier development, beam erection, sleeper manufacture and track panel assembly are all 100 per cent complete," he said.
The SGR line will shorten the passenger travel time from Mombasa to Nairobi from more than 10 hours to a little over 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 aims to simplify transport operations across the borders and reduce travel costs, apart from benefiting the economies of Kenya and neighbouring countries.