President Uhuru Kenyatta has dismissed claims that some countries have been isolated from the East African Community as “baseless and cheap politics”.
The President cited the rehabilitation of the Voi –Taveta and Mombasa –Lunga Lunga roads that link Kenya with Tanzania.
“There are also plans to connect the railway through Taveta to Arusha and onwards to Dar-es-Salaam and thus truly link the East African region,” President Kenyatta said.
Speaking Thursday when he launched the 500 kilometre Mombasa –Nairobi railway at Changamwe, the President said the project reinforces Kenya’s commitment as the gateway to Eastern Africa.
He said the railway would reduce the cost of doing business, decongest the Mombasa port and later the Lamu port.
“The project will also integrate the region served by the Northern Corridor. The republics of Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo will become one large market,” he said.
The President said the private sector and business community now have an opportunity to fulfill their potential. He thanked the President of China for his personal support in the project, saying it was a clear sign that “they are true friends of Kenya”.
Deputy President William Ruto said the railway project would re-engineer the economy of Kenya.
He said the project would reduce the cost of goods and services by 60 per cent and boost GDP by 1.5 to 2 per cent. It will also reduce road accidents, the Deputy President added.
Mr Ruto said: “The occasion is historic because when the last railway started in 1895, it was a colonial masters’ project. At that time, the project was opposed by the Nandi led by my namesake Koitalel arap Samoei.”
“This time, it is a project of the Government of Kenya and I can assure you there will be no Nandi resistance,” he said.
The Deputy President said such projects should be supported by all irrespective of political affiliation.
60,000 TITLE DEEDS
On land, he said the Government has issued 60,000 title deeds in Coast counties and over 3 million all over the country.
He assured investors and tourists that they are safe. On this, the Deputy President said police transport has been improved and community policing boosted by the ‘Nyumba Kumi” initiative. He, however, pointed out that rogue officers would be kicked out of the force.
Some Coast leaders who had opposed the ceremony changed tune and supported it. Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho explained that those who opposed it “only wanted an explanation of the project”.
He said a meeting with Deputy President Ruto resolved the issues.
Mr Joho said the project would boost growth, reduce cost of doing business and thus improve the living standards of Mombasa residents.
He added: “The people of Mombasa will benefit immensely from this.”
Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar, Mombasa Women Representative Mishi Mboko and MPs all backed the project.
Chinese Ambassador Liu Guangyuan said the railway is a strategic choice for Kenya. Railways, he said, had powered China’s economy for the last 30 years.
“China’s rail technology is novel and competitive. Construction of the rail may take long but the Kenyan landscape will be more beautiful,” he said.
Roads and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau introduced his colleagues from Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan at the gathering in Changamwe, who had come to show support for the event.