Land speculators in Naivasha are salivating at the prospect of a windfall with reports that the government plans to extend the standard gauge railway from Nairobi to the town.
On Tuesday, President Uhuru Kenyatta talked about the prospect when he toured construction of the Voi River super bridge, which cuts through the elephant corridor in Tsavo National Park.
If indeed the modern railway will be extended to Naivasha, the cost of land is bound to shoot up.
The extension of 120km will link industrial zones that would be established at Naivasha — home to Olkaria geothermal power plants — to Nairobi and Mombasa.
Olkaria has the potential to generate an estimated 2,000 megawatts that is almost double the maximum daily peak electricity demand recorded in 2008/2009 for the entire country.
To attract investors to set up industrial complexes at the designated zones near Olkaria, the government will offer subsidised power tariffs.
Companies will also have their electricity lines connected directly from the Olkaria power plants to ensure uninterrupted supplies. And in some cases, companies, such as those making clothes, will be allowed access to steam.
The government also plans to set up industrial parks along the route of the standard gauge railway. Already, the Ministry of Industrialisation has identified land for setting up industrial parks in Mariakani, Voi, Naivasha, Athi River and Emali.
Nakuru County Chamber of Commerce chairman Njuguna Kamau said the extension of the modern railway to Naivasha has confirmed the town as the fastest growing commercial centre in Kenya.
“If you look at the kind of investment that is in Naivasha, there is no doubt that the town is a focal point for investors keen on reaping the fruits of their investment,” he said.
Mr Kamau told Smart Company that the county government has identified land where the industrial park will be located “to cash in on the goodies that are coming with the construction of the railway line.”
Equally upbeat are flower investors. There are more than 50 flower farms near the lake side town. The farms employs more than 60,000 people.
Mr Kamau said an upcoming gated community is also an indication of Naivasha’s potential. He said there are four upcoming high-end housing projects in the town.
He said the hospitality industry is also growing.
“The ranking of the town by International Congresses and Convection Association (ICCA), which placed the town at position 34 in Africa recently underscores the town’s potential,” noted Mr Kamau
It was the first time that Naivasha was appearing in the history of ICCA ranking, making it an emerging destination in Kenya.
President Kenyatta has directed Cabinet secretaries to take charge of resolving any issue that might delay the construction of the railway.