Kenya spent Sh450 billion to construct the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), the country’s single largest infrastructure.
The expectations of Kenyans was that after investing this colossal amount, the transport sector would be revolutionalised with the bulk of cargo and human traffic being re-directed to the rail, easing pressure on the road network and curbing accidents.
However, fresh reports indicate that the taxpayer has been coughing Sh31 million a day or Sh1 billion a month to finance SGR operations, which have been contracted to China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC).
Other costs already incurred include a Sh3.5 billion interest free deposit advanced to CRBC to help it in mobilisation and procurement of spare parts as well as cash flow support. Before the operation started, another Sh1.3 billion was paid for costs given as the Pre-Operations Phase Services Payment.
There are more disturbing reports that the railway operators have been subjecting Kenyans to discrimination.
The reports also indicate that adequate safety measures were not put in place when the railway line was designed to pass through wildlife sanctuaries.
The killing of two lions and five buffaloes should be a wakeup call to the Kenya Wildlife Service, that not all measures have been put in place to prevent trains from colliding with wildlife.
Further it appears that the financial agreements are shrouded in a secrecy, which makes it difficult to access crucial information on the contracts entered into when the SGR was conceived.
Granted that running a train service is an expensive venture the world over, the secrecy of this contract and the unwillingness by officers tasked with spending public resources to offer explanations to the public, only compounds a complex scenario.
This information blackout taken against the backdrop of complains by some workers that Kenyans, employed in SGR had been relegated to be drivers and mechanics, not allowed to mix with their foreign “bosses”, is quite upsetting.
These issues should be dealt with expeditiously. Finally, all investors must abide by the country’s statutes and respect its heritage and people.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Standardmedia.co.ke