SGR promises traffic-free travel to Mombasa island
SEE ALSO :The Uhuru-Raila 'secret' visits to ChinaHe says the completion of the railway project will cut movement of goods from the port by road by an estimated 40 per cent. “We will move 22 million tonnes of cargo. Up from around 2 million tonnes every year,” Macharia says. Initially, it was thought that once the railway was completed, it would drastically affect the long distance trucking business, a belief the transport minister dismisses. “There will be business for everyone. New roads are opening up in areas previously unreachable. This will provide new opportunities for those in the transport business,” he says. Although ahead of schedule, the government says its completion was not smooth sailing. From the onset, it faced integrity issues with critics saying it had been grossly overpriced and that Kenya did not need it.
SEE ALSO :Mombasa Port registers cargo growth“We have expanded the port by building a second terminal which will feed the SGR. Containers will be coming of ships and immediately loaded onto train wagons for transportation,” Macharia says. With the port’s expansion, Kenya Ports Authority says it has now doubled the amount of containers it can handle every year. “We can now handle more than 1.6 million containers up from about 800,000,” Catherine Mturi-Wairi the KPA managing director said. When the project is fully completed and automated, the port will be able to move 2.1 million containers annually at a total cost of Sh27 billion. As the SGR project battled credibility and cost issues, other infrastructural projects around it too faced challenges of their own. Access into Mombasa from Nairobi by road has for many years been problematic. The Mombasa Access Road that comprises of the road to the airport to Changamwe through Port Reitz cut straight through commercial. This meant that for the road project to be a success, a lot of people and businesses had to be moved which resulted in protracted back and forth between the government, the National Lands Commission and the land owners. “Doing projects in cities is a challenging endeavour because almost always this means privately owned property needs to be bought by the government. “Compensation is always hard because it’s a long process. Genuine owners need to be identified,” Macharia says. To date though, he says the government has paid out Sh1.7 billion in compensation claims. “A further Sh800 million will be paid out before the project is completed in June.” The total cost of the roads is Sh6 billion. “This investment will open up the entry and exit of Mombasa.” But the infrastructure development projects within Mombasa are not only about exit and entry. “Some of these projects are but opening up the region for business,” Macharia says. The Dongo Kundu, Miritini and Mwache road will serve as a transport corridor for traffic destined to and from Tanzania and will ease traffic pressure on the Likoni Ferry crossing.