Riruta-Ngong railway line good for economy, mobility

Railway lines as viewed from Uhuru Highway bridge. [Andrew Kilonzo, Standard]

The Riruta/Lenana to Ngong Metre Gauge Railway (MGR) line, which was commissioned by President William Ruto last December, will soon start to take shape once the China Construction Communication Company (CCCC) fully begins work on the 12.5-kilometre railway.

While inaugurating the construction, President Ruto said the line would ease pressure on the main road artery and enable the movement of passengers faster and more efficiently.

At its core, the Riruta-Ngong MGR commuter rail is poised to alleviate the crippling traffic congestion that has become synonymous with Nairobi’s bustling streets. The Kenyan government’s commitment to providing affordable and reliable transport solutions is evident in the Riruta-Ngong project.

The increased capacity of the railway, with each train accommodating an additional 800 passengers during peak hours, will cater to a wider population. This not only benefits residents by easing their commute but also contributes to a more sustainable transport system, potentially reducing reliance on personal vehicles.

The Riruta-Ngong railway line, Phase 1 of the envisioned Riruta–Ngong–Kiserian–Ongata Rongai commuter link, is currently in the implementation stage. This 12.5 km line will run through four stations, namely Riruta, Karen, Bulbul, and Ngong, taking off from the existing Meter Gauge line at Riruta (Lenana School area).

One of the most significant advantages of the Riruta-Ngong commuter rail is its potential to eliminate traffic gridlocks along the road to the city, offering a sustainable solution to Nairobi’s perennial congestion woes. By providing a safe, comfortable, and convenient mode of transportation, the project not only enhances mobility but also reduces carbon emissions and promotes environmental sustainability.

The benefits of the Riruta-Ngong commuter rail extend far beyond easing traffic congestion. By opening up the Ngong area for human habitation and commercial activities, the project stimulates economic growth and enhances the livelihoods of local communities.

The line is expected to catalyze the appreciation of land value along its route, attracting investments and fostering vibrant economic activity. Moreover, the reduced travel time and improved accessibility provided by the railway will spur the growth of several towns along the route, transforming them into hubs of commerce and industry.

The successful implementation of the Riruta-Ngong MGR commuter rail project underscores the government’s unwavering commitment to national development. Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC), tasked with overseeing the project, has partnered with China Communication Construction Company (CCCC) to leverage its expertise in railway construction.

CCCC, known for its track record in building railway lines in Kenya, brings invaluable experience to the table, ensuring the seamless execution of the project from conception to completion.

The Riruta-Ngong line exemplifies the Kenyan government’s dedication to realizing the goals outlined in Vision 2030. By investing in critical infrastructure projects, the government lays the groundwork for a more connected, prosperous, and sustainable Kenya. This project, like the ongoing modernization of the national railway network, reflects a commitment to creating a strong foundation for economic growth and development.

Upon completion, the project will significantly alleviate traffic congestion in Nairobi and its surrounding areas. During the morning peak hours, commuting time will be reduced from two hours to half an hour, with each train accommodating an additional 800 passengers.

This project will provide residents of Nairobi and its environs with a safe, comfortable, and convenient mode of transportation, helping to enhance travel efficiency and reduce commuting time. Consequently, it will improve the quality of life and work efficiency for the residents.

Looking ahead, the Riruta-Ngong line forms Phase 1 of a larger vision - the Riruta-Ngong-Kiserian-Ongata Rongai commuter link. With subsequent phases planned to extend the line by 18 kilometres, the project will create a seamless connection within the NMR.

This aligns perfectly with the broader vision for the Nairobi Railway City and the Eldoret Railway City, further solidifying a multi-modal transport network. The efficient movement of people and goods within the region will not only boost economic activity but also foster a more integrated and vibrant metropolitan area.

The Riruta-Ngong MGR Commuter Rail project is more than just a new transportation route. It represents a vision for a more connected, efficient, and prosperous Nairobi Metropolitan Region.

-The writer is a commentator on transport and logistics