Work on new railway to Uganda and Rwanda to start in November

Plans for the construction of the standard gauge railway are in high gear, with the ground breaking work scheduled to take place next month.

Speaking to the media on Friday at the Kenya Railways headquarters, Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet secretary Michael Kamau said the ground breaking work for construction of the new line connecting the Kenyan coast at Mombasa to neighbouring countries of Uganda and Rwanda will take place in Changamwe, Mombasa County, beginning November 28.

“We have set 28th of November as the ground breaking date,” he said.

The construction is estimated to cost Sh1.2 trillion, with a completion date of 2017 for the line from Mombasa to Nairobi.

ACCESS TO MARKET

The new line is expected to boost regional trade and reduce the cost of doing business in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.  The line will also provide better access to market for goods from Kenya and countries in East Africa, boosting trade within the region.

A bulk of the Sh425 billion ($5 billion) funds deal from the Chinese government is set to finance construction of the railway line that will also have a link to the lakeside city of Kisumu.

The remainder of the money will come from the Kenya government, which has introduced a 1.5 per cent levy on all imports. Both Uganda and Rwanda are raising money to fund the line traversing their countries.

Developing the rail transport network in Kenya has gained much prominence in recent times as the government is keen to increase efficiency in cargo movement from the port in Mombasa to Kampala in Uganda and Kigali in Rwanda.

Currently, the on-going Nairobi commuter rail project, which kicked off in November last year, has seen four stations out of the planned 26, completed to decongest city roads.

The Kenya Railways Corporation launched the Syokimau Commuter railway station in November 2012, with traveller numbers currently standing at 35,000 per month.

These are expected to double with the expected opening of the Makadara and Imara Daima commuter stations next month.

The new stations will also see the eviction of residents who have encroached on the rail line passing through Mukuru kwa Njenga slums.

“Those who have encroached on the railway line should get out for safety reasons. They will be given an eviction notice to allow them to move,” said Mr Maina Kamanda, the chairman of the parliamentary committee on Transport, Public works and Housing.

Plans to establish a regulator for both roads and the railway are also in the pipeline, with a law being drafted to that effect.-nation

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