State shops for management experts to run new rail system

Imara Daima  railway station along Mombasa road in this picture filed on 25th June,2014

Process to recruit reputable managers for SGR has already been set into motion

The Government plans to outsource the management of the planned high-speed Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) to an international firm.

The decision, according to Solomon Ouna, project manager in-charge of the SGR Development, is informed by the lack of capacity to run high speed modern system by the Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC). The  multi-billion shilling railway line will be operating between Mombasa and Malaba, with a branch line to Kisumu.

He said the state-owned corporation lacked the capacity and technical expertise to operate the new line.

Ouna said a process is already underway to hire a consultant to advise on the recruitment of reputable managers for the proposed railway line.

"There will be an international tender to identify the best operator possible. The whole project is so big - necessitating that we source for a consultant who is familiar with the process.  We are in the process of acquiring that consultant," he explained.

Ouna was speaking during a forum on Rail Transport Policy in Kenya held in Nairobi yesterday. The event was organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA).

The SGR, which is expected to connect the Kenyan Indian Ocean seafront and the Great Lakes Region with high capacity standard gauge railway was commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta in November last year.

Construction work on the project is expected to start in October this year and the initial phase comprising a 500km stretch from Mombasa to Nairobi is due to be finished in December 2017.

The targeted countries include Uganda, DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, Southern Sudan, Northern Tanzania and Ethiopia.

The Mombasa-Nairobi-Malaba/Kisumu Standard Gauge Railway is part of a section of the Northern Corridor— a transport artery for Kenya, northern Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Eastern DRC, Southern Sudan and Ethiopia.

The SGR project will be built by the China Roads and Bridge Construction Company. It will connect to the Kampala line and extend to Kigali, with the estimated total distance standing at 2,935km.

The initial phase (Mombasa-Nairobi) whose cost is estimated at Sh327 billion will be funded by the Chinese government (90 per cent) and Kenyan government will finance the remaining 10 per cent of the cost.

The high-speed railway line is intended to transform the country's railway transport system  from an archaic and outdated network to a modern system in line with the aspirations of Vision 2030.

Its key specifications include operating speeds of between 80 km/h and 120Km/h for freight and passenger trains respectively.

The transit time will be eight hours for freight trains and four hours and 30 minutes for passengers' trains.

This project is expected to transfer freight from roads to rail, reducing rapid damage of the region's roads, besides  providing safe transport system.

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