Kisumu has missed out on the planned upgrade of the Metre Gauge Railway (MGR) which will now go through Longonot to Malaba bypassing the lakeside city.
Speaking in Nakuru on Tuesday, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said the future of cargo transport lays in trains and that was the reason the country was moving with speed to connect the MGR with the Mombasa-Naivasha Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).
According to Mr Macharia, the Longonot-Malaba MGR will go through Nakuru and Eldoret towns bypassing Kisumu. This is despite the recent refurbishment of Kisumu Port.
“We will not be going through Kisumu Port. Instead, we will be using the new port for the transport of liquid petroleum which will be ferried to Port Bell in Kampala and port of Jinja in Uganda, using the recently acquired MV Uhuru, which has the ability to carry 1.2 million litres of petroleum per trip,” said Macharia.
The MGR upgrade, which will take 12 months, will cost Sh3.5 billion. The extension of the SGR from Naivasha on-wards hangs in the balance owing to China’s failure to commit funds to the project. China funded the initial phases of the SGR.
Macharia emphasised that the plan is to have the movement of cargo between Mombasa and the Malaba border take only 10 hours as opposed to the current three days.
“We want to fast-track the process of connecting the two railway lines - MGR and SGR - at Naivasha so that our partners in the great lakes region can access cargo with ease,” Macharia said.
This will open cargo destinations in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).”
The Transport CS revealed that DRC had requested to have their petroleum also moved through the Port of Kisumu to Bukoba in Tanzania where it can be easily ferried into the DRC town of Goma.
Meanwhile, Macharia said the Government has put up cargo handling machines at the Naivasha Inland Container Depot (ICD), that will ensure there is no queuing by trucks waiting at the depot.
“There will be no trucks lining up for cargo. They will be cleared immediately as they come in. We will have clearing services operating efficiently,” said Macharia.
He revealed that Rwanda, Uganda and Southern Sudan have been given land around the Naivasha ICD to develop their cargo facilities as part of attracting business around the ICD. The Mai Mahiu ICD area has been fashioned as a special economic zone.
“In a few years there will be many jobs here. We have invited investors. A number have declared interest to put up factories,” the CS said.
The over hundred acres ICD area has one kilometre of concrete road connecting it to the Mai Mahiu-Narok road for easy access by trucks picking or delivering cargo.