Kenya on Tuesday launched the Nairobi-Naivasha Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) cargo service and an inland container depot (ICD) that are expected to revolutionize transport of bulk cargo to the east Africa nation's hinterland and neighboring countries.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Chinese State Councilor Wang Yong, were among dignitaries who graced the launch of the SGR phase 2A freight service and dry port located in the resort town of Naivasha.
"Today, we mark the commencement of the freight train services to the Naivasha Inland Container Depot; thus making an unequivocal statement that we as a people are ready to ascend," said Kenyatta during the launch in Nairobi.
The freight service launch came after the Nairobi-Naivasha SGR passenger service was inaugurated on October 16 this year. The 120km Nairobi-Naivasha railway is an extension of the Chinese-built modern railway that connects Kenya's coastal port city Mombasa to the capital Nairobi. The Mombasa-Nairobi SGR was launched in 2017.
Kenyatta said the commencement of freight transport along the Nairobi-Naivasha SGR corridor that is part of the proposed Mombasa-Nairobi-Kisumu/Malaba SGR project, will stimulate investments and economic growth in the Kenyan hinterland.
"We equally remain hopeful that other economic and commercial ventures will be established along the line, which together will trigger the creation of productive employment, and in the process reduce poverty and inequality across the whole country," said Kenyatta.
He said that operationalization of the SGR phase 2A freight service and Naivasha's dry port will boost Kenya's status as a transport and logistics hub while enhancing regional integration.
Kenyatta said that two trains will on a daily basis serve the Naivasha ICD while two shipping lines had already committed to delivering their bulk cargo directly from the port of Mombasa to Naivasha.
Chinese State Councilor Wang Yong, also the special envoy of Chinese President Xi Jinping, congratulated Kenya for the launch of the new freight transport service.
He said the full launch of the Nairobi-Naivasha SGR services marked another milestone in the history of railway construction in Kenya and Africa in general. It also marked another major achievement of the China-Kenya and China-Africa cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Wang said the project has showcased the mutual benefits and shared development through China-Africa cooperation, adding that China will adhere to the principles of sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith, and the approach of upholding justice while pursuing shared interest in China-Africa cooperation.
"We will continue to promote Sino-Kenyan cooperation such as facility connectivity within the framework of BRI to build a closer China-Africa community of shared destiny," said the envoy.
James Macharia, Kenyan cabinet secretary for transport and infrastructure, said the commissioning of Nairobi-Naivasha freight service and inland container depot, will revolutionize transportation and handling of bulk cargo.
"The launch of SGR freight service presents a safe and reliable mode of transporting bulk cargo. It will enhance regional integration and competitiveness of our economy," said Macharia.