New railway to add 1.5 per cent to national wealth

Monday March 21 2016

A section of the standard gauge railway crossing in Makueni County on March 17, 2016.

A section of the standard gauge railway crossing in Makueni County on March 17, 2016. The line will be completed next year. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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The standard gauge railway will be commissioned by June next year with activities on the new line projected to add at least 1.5 per cent to the country’s wealth.

According to Kenya Railways Managing Director Atanas Maina, his team is set to travel to China to inspect 56 locomotives, 1,620 freight wagons and 40 passenger wagons to be delivered in April in readiness for commissioning.

“We signed the contract in 2012 and agreed with the contractor on how we were going to procure the equipment. Our technical team will go to confirm that the equipment is of the correct specifications,” he said.

The managing director was addressing a team of journalists at Athi River bridge on Friday after a tour of the line from Mombasa to Nairobi.

He said the project had been fast-tracked to be completed mid next year instead of December, and allayed fears that quality was being compromised.

“What we did was to agree with the contractor that the project be divided into sections that are worked on simultaneously without affecting quality,” he said.

Mr Maina said there are also plans to link Voi with Arusha by replacing the dilapidated one metre type with a standard gauge line between the town and Taveta.

Already, the China Roads and Bridge Construction, which is constructing the Mombasa-Nairobi line, is carrying out a feasibility study that will be completed in the next few months, said Mr Maina.

“Of most importance is that the line has to continue to Tanzania and since development of the railway infrastructure is an East African master plan, we expect our neighbouring country to do their part,” he said.

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, who accompanied Mr Maina during the briefing, said the line is the most important project for the government, noting that it will contribute 1.5 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.