NAIVASHA, KENYA: As the extension of the 120km Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Nairobi to Naivasha enters the final stages, Naivasha town has been identified as one of the major beneficiaries of the capital project.
Already 80 percent of the project has been completed with compensation stalemate along the Ngong section delaying the railway completion by the proposed June 1 deadline.
This comes at a time when the value of land has tripled in Mai Mahiu area where the proposed industrial park to be served by the railway will be located.
According to Kamau Njuguna a director at the East Africa Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the project would change positively the face of Nakuru County.
He said that on its completion, Naivasha would get more tourists meaning more business for the tourist resorts, the spas, the national parks, fishing, and hotels.
“Naivasha will be few minutes train ride from Nairobi and this will ensure a huge stream of domestic and foreign tourists flock to enjoy all that Naivasha has to offer,” he said.
He added that the horticulture farmers would have quicker and cheaper transport for their produce via the Internal Container Depot to JKIA.
“This means fresh produce gets to local and international markets faster thus enabling these businesses to grow faster and employ more people,” he said.
The chairperson Naivasha Professional Association (NPA) Absolom Mukuusi said that the railway would be a huge boost to power producers in Olkaria region.
“The railway line will help the companies to move their heavy equipment quickly and affordably delivered from the Mombasa port to their sites within days instead of the weeks it currently takes,” he said.
On their part, residents of Mai Mahiu noted that they were already feeling the effects of the railway line mainly in terms of infrastructure and value of land.
According to a community leader John Mwathi, for years the area had been neglected in terms of infrastructure but this had changed since the railway line began.
“We have seen the value of land rise and the contractors have assisted in building some classes, and even rehabilitating rural roads and we are grateful,” he said.
According to China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) spokesperson Steve Zhao, they had constructed 80 percent of the infrastructure, including roadbeds, culverts, bridges and station buildings.
Zhao was optimistic that the compensation deadlock would be resolved so that the project could be finished before the year ended.
“Before work was stopped in July 2018, the anticipated completion day was June 2019 and with the remaining section of work not being attended to, the launch date may be delayed,” said Zhao.
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