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State maintains SGR target date of 2018

BUSINESS
By PETER KIRAGU | October 4th 2014

Nairobi; Kenya: Kenya has maintained that the target completion date for the proposed Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) is March 2018, despite delays occasioned by noises surrounding the procurement of a Chinese contractor.

China Road & Bridges Construction is undertaking the multi-billion development that will see a standard gauge rail development from Mombasa to Nairobi in the first phase covering 472 kilometres and then to Malaba in the second phase and thereafter connect to Uganda and Rwanda. At the end, 609 kilometres of rail will be put up.

A recent summit of the Northern Corridor Integration Projects directed the ministers for Transport in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda to ensure that the railway reaches Kigali Rwanda by 2018. Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta further directed that the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway line should be completed by June 2017. The kickoff has, however, been slowed by controversies surrounding the selection of China Road & Bridges Construction with the government being accused by a section of Members of Parliament of single sourcing for the contractor. The plan has also been slowed by the lengthy process of land acquisition for the project.

Cost of transport

The Government has, however, kicked off the planning process ignoring the hiccups with the real construction work expected to begin this month. Earlier last month, China Road & Bridges Construction put up a mobilisation site in Mariakani to host a campsite, concrete mixing site and laboratories to be used by the project contractor. Other similar camp sites will be in Samburu, Mtito Andei, Kathekani and Nairobi.

And this week, Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau, met with the various county government officials including commissioners, district commissioners as well as district officers to sensitise them on the implementation of the project. “When the Heads of State for Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya decided that SGR must be built and completed by March 2018, many thought it was a pipe dream but they had a vision,” said Eng Kamau.

“I do expect that the National Land Commission will do all that is necessary to ensure land is acquired as stipulated in the constitution and the law.” The CS called on the administrators to educate members of the public on the expected benefits of the project. It is envisioned that the realisation of an efficient high speed and capacity modern railway network will significantly reduce the cost of transportation for goods and persons.

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