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Extension of Sh3.5b meter-gauge railway line complete

By Antony Gitonga | September 25th 2021

Parliamentary Committee on Finance and Planning members touring the MGR extension, September 24, 2021. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

The Sh3.5 billion Meter-Gauge Railway (MGR) line from Mai Mahiu Inland Depot Container to Longonot town in Naivasha is now complete.

The 24-kilometre railway line paves the way for the evacuation of cargo from the depot to Malaba border. This is expected to help further reduce the time taken to ferry goods from the port of Mombasa to Uganda. 

The Kenya Railways (KR) is already carrying out trials on the new railway line constructed by China Road and Bridge Corporation.

KR managing director Phillip Mainga said the latest project was aimed at extending the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) in a plan aimed at hastening the ferrying of goods from Mombasa to neighboring countries.

"Railway transport is faster than the road by far. We plan to commission the MGR in November after the trials," said Mainga.

Mainga who spoke at the Mai Mahiu depot said transporting goods to neighbouring countries by road has been a major challenge that will now be resolved by the new railway line.

He said the amount of cargo KR ferries is expected to rise sharply, thanks to the project. The agency has ferried over four tonnes of cargo to neighbouring countries since 2007, Mainga said. 

"About 30 per cent of cargo on our roads is destined for the neighbouring countries. With enhanced connectivity, we expect the amount of cargo ferried to increased and we look forward to using railway transport more."

Kenya Railways (KR) is already carrying out trials on the new railway line. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

Wajir South MP Mohammed Sheikh Mohammed, a member of the parliamentary Committee on Finance and Planning who spoke when the team toured the depot, said they are carrying out investigations to establish whether or not SGR was cost-effective.

Mohammed said their investigations follow concerns about how profitable and effective the SGR will eventually be, if at all.

“Kenya is now an economic hub in the region and the rehabilitation of the railway line is a good investment, especially for the future,” he said.

Kisumu Town East MP Shakeel Shabir defended the government over the cost of SGR. Globally, he said, railway lines are not meant to make profit but spur economic development.

“Once the rehabilitation of the railway line is complete, it will open up trade between the Western region and neighbouring countries of Uganda and Tanzania, and that is important,” he said.   

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