Plans to revive Kisumu railway line gather pace

President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga inspect works at the Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium being built in Mamboleo, Kisumu, yesterday. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

The quest to revive the Nakuru-Kisumu railway line is gathering momentum with the process expected to be complete by April.

Yesterday, President Uhuru Kenyatta and Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga toured the line during a visit to Kisumu.

A source told The Standard that the line is among key projects the president is focused on delivering to revamp the region’s economy.

“Plans are at an advanced stage and the president was interested in knowing the progress of the plans to revive the railway line,” said the official.

The revival plans include the construction of a new railway station at Obunga.

Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o said in a press release that the construction of the station, which is among the projects the president inspected, is expected to be completed by April.

This comes less than a week after government bulldozers flattened Kisumu’s largest fish market to pave way for the construction of the new railway station.

Kenya Railways has also stepped up its efforts to revive rail transport in the region, which it hopes to complete before the end of the year with a Sh3.7 billion budget.

The collapse of the railway line led to the death of towns, shopping centres and major markets along the track.

Once bustling with life, Kibos, Miwani, Kibigori, Koru and Muhoroni shopping centres in Kisumu are now desolate. Dusty and dilapidated buildings are what remain of the once vibrant train station at Kibos in Kisumu.

Raliway installations in Kibos, Kisumu East, on October 28, 2020. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

The crumbling buildings show the economic blow the region suffered when the old Kisumu-Nakuru railway line collapsed in mid 90s.

Meanwhile, Kenyatta and Raila yesterday met Western and Nyanza leaders over the forthcoming Africities Conference.

Kisumu will host the international conference in November, and sources said there is a push and pull between Kisumu County government and the ministries of Transport and Tourism over the city’s ability to host the event.

Raila first had a two-hour closed-door meeting with governors Anyang’Nyongó (Kisumu), Wyckliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Sospeter Ojamoong (Busia) and Wycliffe Wangamati (Bungoma), as well as Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa at a Kisumu hotel.

The delegation then met Kenyatta at the Kisumu State House. Area leaders reportedly sought the intervention of the president to help finance preparations.

Mathews Owili, the Kisumu deputy governor, said the county needs Sh850 million to build Africities village in Mamboleo.

Africities Conference is a signature event of the United Cities and Local Governments in Africa. It is Africa’s flagship pan-African event that is held every three years in one of the five regions of Africa. Kenya will be hosting it for the second time after the first one in Nairobi in 2006.

Tomorrow, Kenyatta is expected to convene a meeting between the Lake Region Economic Bloc governors and the two national government line ministries.

The president and Raila also visited Kisumu Port and Jomo Kenyatta Stadium, where the Africities conference is expected to be held.

The duo did not address the media, but sources indicated that the president tasked the contractor with ensuring that construction works at the stadium are complete in time for the upcoming conference.

They flew in military choppers from Kisumu Port to Mamboleo.