VIDEO:Four SGR locomotives arrive at Mombasa port
Four locomotives and two Shatners (railway engines) arrived at the port of Mombasa on Monday as the Sh372 billion Standard Gauge Railway takes shape.
Kenya Ports Authority managing director Catherine Mturi-Wairi received the cargo that arrived aboard MV Kota Bistari from the manufacturer, China Railway Rolling Stock.
The locomotives have been brought into the country by the Chinese Engineering, Procurement and Construction Company and China Road and Bridge Corporation for the multi-billion project expected to be launched in June.
The equipment arrived on Sunday night and is the first batch of the locomotives expected to haul modern wagons along the Standard Gauge Railway ahead of their commissioning on Wednesday. Cabinet Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure James Macharia is expected to flag off the locomotive engines.
The Shatners are railway engines but do not pull wagons; they are used to test the efficiency and suitability of the railway line before the locomotives use them.
Ms Mturi-Wairi was accompanied by general manager for technical services Joseph Atonga, corporate services manager Martin Mutuku and head of security Mariam Hamisi in receiving the equipment at the port.
President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto have said that the first train will set off from Nairobi on June 1 to Mombasa.
The SGR is the biggest infrastructure project in Kenya since independence. It will shorten the passenger travel time from Mombasa to Nairobi from more than 10 hours to about four hours while freight trains will complete the 609km journey in less than eight hours.
The new railway line constitutes the first phase that is between Mombasa and Nairobi, but aims to connect Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan in subsequent phases. Although the project that begun in 2013 was initially scheduled to be completed in 2018, the government has said it will be ready this year.
The SGR, which will complement the slower, narrow gauge network operated by Rift Valley Railways, was budgeted to cost Sh372 billion but this could escalate to Sh447.5 billion.
The main contractor is China Road and Bridge Corporation with 90 per cent of the financing coming from the Exim Bank of China and 10 per cent from the Kenyan government.
Until now, it is estimated that more than 25,000 Kenyans have been hired to work on the railway as labourers or permanent staff for various tasks while the project is expected to open up the Southern Corridor for major economic investments.
Upon completion, the railway whose design capacity is 22 million tons per year, will be operated for five years by the Chinese company.
Passenger services will run from Changamwe in Mombasa West to Nairobi South in Syokimau where passengers can transfer to ordinary trains to the city.
Freight train services will operate from the Port of Mombasa to an inland container depot at Embakasi in Nairobi.