Lake region bloc draws plan to connect 14 counties to railway

Nyamira Governor Amos Nyaribon (second right) shows some aspects of the proposed Integrated Industrial Park in Nyamira to United Nations International Development (UNIDO) Country Representative Kawira Bucyana as Interior Ministry secretary Jane Mugambi and County Planner Lameck Machuki look on. [Stanley Ongwae, Standard]

The Lake Region Economic Bloc counties have embarked on fresh prospects of having a railway that will connect them to the national line.

According to the plan, the 14 counties will each have a railway line.

But the main focus is the upcoming multibillion-shilling agro-industrial park investment at Sironga in Nyamira.

The park is being constructed at an initial cost of Sh3 billion by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido).

Feasibility studies on the agro-industrial project have been validated and await approval.

The national railway line currently serves Kericho, Kisumu, Nandi, and part of Narok. But according to officials, the prospected rail line will serve the other counties.

Other counties in the bloc include Siaya, Nyamira, Kisii, Homa Bay, Migori, Bomet, Nandi, Vihiga, Bungoma, Trans Nzoia, and Kakamega.

The bloc has entered into a memorandum of engagement with the Indian Railway Corporation (IRC) which will be the key implementer of the project.

Some leaders from the Lake Region made a physical survey across Nyamira, Kericho, Bomet, and parts of Kisumu on Sunday. The counties form the main areas to benefit from the infrastructural expansion.

The delegation was headed by the Lake Region Bloc CEO Victor Nyagaya and Nyamira Governor Amos Nyaribo with county executive members from the region alongside officers from the IRC.

“Expansion of the railway transport in the lake region will enhance trade. We are talking about more than 15 million people benefitting from the initiative,” Mr Nyagaya said.

“Serving the counties with rail transport will make the venture very cheap because of the low cost involved in rail transport,” Mr Nyaribo said.

Also in the prospect is the introduction of cheap power options which the bloc officials said will be exploited by experts from India.

Dr Raju Gannavarapu, one of the energy experts and the CEO of Procorp Enertech in India, was also present. He is expected to lead the power exploration team. Dr Gannavarapu said the power option that will be provided will lower the cost of energy production by half.

Among the options being considered include solar energy and hydropower which, according to Dr Gannavarapu, will have to be tapped from within the area.

He said: “The only key challenge in production is the cost of power which is untenably high, especially in Kenya. But with the energy model, we will do here, the cost of production will be reduced by up to 50 per cent.”

In April, a delegation of governors and officials of the bloc toured India for benchmarking. They assessed various aspects of development that can be directly associated with the upcoming agro-industrial park in Nyamira.

Mr Nyaribo said in the future the region will enter into an agreement with the Indian Railway with the support of the national government.