State begins search for Standard Gauge rail operator

Tuesday March 29 2016

The SGR work in progress. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA

Construction of the standard gauge railway near Tsavo. FILE PHOTO | DIANA NGILA 

By LILIAN OCHIENG'
More by this Author

The government has begun the search for an operator of the Sh400 billion Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway, ahead of the railway line’s completion early next year.

The Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) in a Tuesday advert invited bids for a transaction advisor who will help procure an operator for the mega project.

“KR intends to procure a transaction advisor to advice on the procurement of a competent operator for the operation of the Mombasa to Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway currently under construction,” says the advert.

The state corporation invites bids from eligible firms to provide the consultancy services. The bids should be submitted before 10am April 22.

The infrastructure is touted by the World Bank and International Monitory Fund as a game changer, massively contributing to the country’s wealth even before its completion.

GDP

China Road and Bridge Corporation the company constructing the rail states that SGR will contribute 1.5 per cent to Kenya’s GDP growth when complete.

At least 38,000 Kenyans have so far been employed to work on SGR while local contractors have signed Sh50 billion worth of contracts with the Chinese firm.

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said the new railway will open up for commercial services in mid-2017.

Construction of SGR kicked off in December 2014 and has been hastened, with 78 per cent of the main works now complete.

The railway line is expected to link The Port of Mombasa to the capital Nairobi, then connect to Uganda, boosting trade and cutting regional transport costs.

Transit of heavy freight as well as passengers is expected to be faster via the railway line, reducing accidents and pressure on roads.