It is all systems go for the Naivasha Standard Gauge Railways operations as President Uhuru Kenyatta launched SGR freight services to Naivasha Inland Container Depot today.
The ICD is on the recently launched Nairobi-Suswa Standard Gauge Railway Line. The Sh150 billion line cuts across Nairobi, Kajiado, Narok and Nakuru Counties.
The line has four passenger stations namely; Ongata Rongai, Ngong, Mai Mahiu and Suswa and one interchange station at Nachu station.
With the official launch of the freight service, cargo can now be ferried all the way from Mombasa to Naivasha SGR terminus.
The project is expected to ease transportation of cargo from the port of Mombasa to Uganda, Rwanda, Uganda, South Sudan and parts of DRC. It will eliminate the cost linked to delays at the Mombasa Port and spur economic growth within the corridor.
The launch of the freight services comes ahead of the full completion of the Naivasha Inland Container Depot, a project which sits on a 1,000-acre piece of land of the 76,000-acre Kedong Ranch. Some of its features include a railway marshalling yard, logistics zone and public utility area.
President Uhuru said the government is committed to improving infrastructure across the country to make Kenya preferred destination for investors.
He said works on the restoration of Section 2B of the old railway line to Malaba is on course.
“The freight services to Naivasha will play a huge role in decongesting Nairobi and Mombasa facilitities and also ease cargo transport to western parts of the country. It will also enable South Sudan, Rwanda, DRC and Uganda reduce cargo transportation time from Mombasa Port,” he said
He called on critics of the railway project to support the infrastructure disclosing that already two shipping lines have committed to transport cargo direct from Mombasa Naivasha.
He said the Naivasha ICD will handle two trains per day.
Speaking on Thursday, Nakuru County Governor Lee Kinyanjui noted that the Naivasha Dry Port will transform the surrounding areas turning it into one of the biggest economic and logistics hub in the country and East African region.
“We shall have the Kenyan dry port expected to start running soon. Uganda and South Sudan are also set to develop theirs in the same area. This will be a great milestone for Naivasha and the country at large,” said Kinyanjui.
Kinyanjui lauded the national government for its continued support through major investments in the county which will go a long way in creating jobs and improving their livelihoods.
The dry port project has been faced challenges as 30,000 families living on the parcel declined to move out and moved to court.
Justice Dalmus Ohungo who is hearing the case, however, declined to issue orders to stop their eviction.