Kenya Railways (KR) is set to hire 800 skilled and semi-skilled personnel for construction works of the old railway line from Nakuru to Kisumu, which is estimated to cost Sh3.8 billion.
Kenya Railways Managing Director Philip Mainga said the recruits will repair the meter-gauge railway, which is more than 100 years old.
"There will also be 440 servicemen from the National Youth Service. Engagements started gradually as from last week," he told The Standard.
Mainga said the repair works are expected to be complete within eight months and urged locals to cooperate, especially those who have encroached on the railway line.
He noted that notices to vacate had been issued to those who have encroached on the railway reserve.
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"Enforcement of the earlier notice is to start immediately as from this month," he said
The 216km Nakuru-Kisumu meter-gauge railway traverses Nakuru, Kericho and Kisumu counties, and has 18 stations.
The railway line has overgrown bushes, been vandalised in some sections, while some bridges/box and pipe and culverts have collapsed.
A spot check at the Kisumu railway station found that a section of the embankment has been washed away, station buildings are dilapidated, and signaling communication and train control systems have been vandalised.
The KR land has been fenced off and traders who were initially operating there were ordered out.
The affected businesses include Hotel Ranalo Foods, which has since relocated to Milimani while Railways Band orchestra moved to Nyamasaria on the Kisumu-Nairobi road.
Already, KR has installed cargo handling machines at the Naivasha Inland Container Depot to avoid long ques of trucks at the depot.
The government also plans to build a special economic zone (SEZ) in Miwani and offer cheap power to encourage cargo transport.
Kisumu County Government has identified approximately 10,000 acres to set up the industrial park.
The SEZ is projected to reduce bureaucracy and address domestic private sector constraints such as the cost of energy, limited transport linkages and market access.
Governor Anyang' Nyong’o said the availability of land for establishment of the industrial park will help spur growth in the lakeside city.
“The SEZ will provide more land for small and large-scale industrial development, create jobs in skilled sectors and encourage knowledge transfer to bolster growth,” he said.
Over the years, many programmes designed to stimulate the economy have either stalled or collapsed.
In the 1990s, the meter-gauge railway used to move passengers and cargo locally and to the neighbouring countries.
With the planned resumption of rail transport, the newly refurbished Kisumu port is expected to see an increase in business from road, rail and port transport linkage services.