Maritime sector projects take 2023 centre stage

Construction of the Dongo Kundu bypass bridge. [Robert Menza, Standard] 

A number of new projects that are intended to revolutionise the way the shipping and logistics industry will operate this year are in the pipeline.

Today, we look at these projects one by one. They are the brainchild of the new administration.  

Nairobi Sh30 billion rail city project

The project funded by the United Kingdom government seeks to transform the city’s transport sector by enhancing railway transport to decongest the Central Business District.

It comprises of a green city; office blocks, malls and a light industrial hub on Kenya Railways land. President Ruto officiated the ground breaking at the Nairobi Central station. He said the project is a milestone for the country’s economic agenda.

“Transport systems are the cornerstone of efficiency,” said President Ruto, adding that the improvements his administration is making in the sector are strategic. 

Apart from rail transport, the project will also have motorised and non-motorised transport. 

The proposed station is part of the wider Nairobi Railway City redevelopment programme that was being championed by former President Uhuru Kenyatta and supported by the UK government.

It is aimed at redeveloping the 425 acres of central Nairobi in a bid to ease congestion in the city and spur economic growth.

It will have eight lanes and an additional four lanes for freight services once it is completed in two years.

The new city will relieve the Central Business District of part of the load in hosting enterprises through setting up economic zones that will comprise hi-tech industries and SMEs in a development set to create over 200,000 new jobs.

The multi-modal facility, which will be developed by British architects, will be situated within a 425-acre land piece, of which Kenya Railways owns 292 acres.

UK’s Atkins Global is the designer of the project. The design for the Nairobi Railway City was unveiled in May. 

Sh39b Dongo Kundu Special Economic Zone 

The multi-billion Japanese-funded Kenya special economic zone (SEZ) project at Mombasa port is aimed at boosting the infrastructure capacity of the region.

The project which is set to be completed by 2026 will include the creation of a free trade zone, a free port, a logistics hub, and a mega industrial zone.

Tender details show the project involves dredging of a special berth, building of facilities, including the administration building, and set up a security system and information and communication technology hub. 

It also involves the construction of a free trade zone, port, logistics hub and industrial zone. Firms eyeing to use Mombasa Port will be allocated space to set up depots. 

Dredging of the berth will include widening and reclaiming of land for the project. Once the economic zone is completed, it will have the capacity to employ 27,000 people in various businesses, especially in manufacturing, the government has said.

Mombasa port is the gateway for landlocked countries such as Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

Mai Mahiu-Naivasha-Malaba SGR extension

Kenya is seeking a joint partnership with China for the extension of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Mai Mahiu to Malaba, Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen said recently.

The five-year plan will see the multi-billion railway line pass through Narok, Bomet, Nyamira, Kisumu and finally to Malaba.

Mr Murkomen said the government is keen to revamp railways lines across the country, as their use is cheaper and safer. “The SGR can first be extended to Naivasha in the next couple of years where passengers can connect to other towns or even use the meter gauge railway line,” he said.

The State has defended the move by the government to revert to clearing and forwarding of goods to the Port of Mombasa from the Naivasha Dry Port.

It argues that the Naivasha facility is still active.  “We are not kicking out trailers from our roads as they still serve many inland towns but the use of railway will reduce the number of accidents on the road,” said Murkomen.

Sh1.2b Regional Maritime Institute in Kwale

The government's Sh1.2 billion regional maritime transport and port logistics institute in Kwale County is already under construction.

The ultra-modern training facility is billed to be a regional centre of excellence for the East African region.

The institute that seeks to train a new generation of mariners is part of a World Bank project under the East Africa skills for transformation and regional integration project.

Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs Cabinet Secretary Salim Mvurya said once complete, the new facility is expected to equip trainees skills in port logistics and marine transport.