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Kenya steps forward with its Modern SGR Railway system

Nairobi – Kenya steps forward with its Modern SGR Railway system which was funded by China.The Chinese-funded railway linking Kenya’s largest port city of Mombasa to the capital Nairobi will make its first trip on Wednesday.The 480 km railway linking Kenya’s largest port city Mombasa to capital Nairobi, it will be a key infrastructure project that will push forward the East Africa nation’s modernization drive, a senior company executive said Monday.

“The launch of the standard gauge railway (SGR) will undoubtedly contribute to Kenya’s economic and social development as well as improve people’s livelihoods and lead the country to prosperity,” said Chen Yun, vice-president of China Communications Construction Company, parent company of the China Road and Bridge Corporation which built the mega-project.

In an interview with Xinhua on the sidelines of a ceremony held here in Nairobi for the release of the company’s social responsibility report regarding the SGR project, Chen said that the company has endeavored to build the Kenya SGR project into a quality project that will endure the test of time. “The Mombasa-Nairobi railway is also a way of cooperation, mutual benefits and prosperity,” Chen said.

More on the Project

The Mombasa–Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) is a standard gauge railway that will connect the port of Mombasa to Kenya’s capital city Nairobi. Tracklaying was completed in December 2016, and the railway will be commissioned in June 2017. Commercial operation will begin in January 2018.

Under the East African Railway Master Plan, the Mombasa–Nairobi line will link up with other standard gauge railways that are being built in East Africa. Construction is already under way on Phase II of the Kenya SGR, which will extend the railway to the Uganda border by 2021.

The prime contractor on the railway is the China Road and Bridge Corporation. The project is estimated to cost US$3.6 billion, with 90% supplied by a loan from the Exim Bank of China and 10% coming from the Kenyan government.25,000 Kenyans were hired to work on the railway.

Upon completion, the railway will be operated for five years by the China Communications Construction Company.The design capacity of the railway is 22 million tonnes per year.

Brief History

In the 2000s, Kenya’s colonial-era metre gauge railways deteriorated from a lack of maintenance. By 2016, passenger trains were taking 24 hours to travel from Nairobi to Mombasa, a far cry from the 12 hour timetable of the early 1990s. Freight transported from the Port of Mombasa fell from 4.8 million tonnes in the 1980s to 1.5 million tonnes in 2012. In 2014, Rift Valley Railways, the operator of railways in Kenya and Uganda, reported a loss of $1.5 million.

At the same time, the Chinese government was funding railway construction in other African countries. In 2011, Kenya signed a memorandum of understanding with the China Road and Bridge Corporation to build a standard gauge railway from Mombasa to Nairobi. Financing was finalized in May 2014, with the China Exim Bank extending a loan for 90% of the project cost, and the remaining 10% coming from the Kenyan government.

Tracklaying was completed, and the three types of locomotive that will operate the railway were unveiled, in December 2016. The railway will go into trial operation in June 2017, and commercial service will begin in January 2018.

The Rail Route

The SGR begins at Port Reitz, just west of Mombasa Island. The line passes through the transportation corridor between Tsavo East National Park and Tsavo West National Park. As it approaches Nairobi, the railway crosses the 2.6 km long Athi River Super Bridge, the 6th longest bridge in Africa at the time of its construction. The main station for Nairobi is at Syokimau, near Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Phase 2 of the SGR will extend the Mombasa–Nairobi line to Naivasha, and eventually to the Uganda border. A connecting standard gauge railway is being built in Uganda by another Chinese state-owned company, giving landlocked Uganda high-capacity railway transport to the sea.

This is a great push for the East African Nation, or what do you think?


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