Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said China-funded high speed railway which runs from the coastal city of Mombasa to Nairobi will be completed ahead of the schedule.
Kenyatta who visited a section of the 472 kilometer standard gauge railway (SGR) project which is more than three-quarters done said once complete, the project will enhance Kenya’s position as a regional business hub.
Speaking during the inspection, Kenyatta said that the government is in talks with investors to put up industrial parks along the SGR line so as to create jobs for Kenyans.
“We have discussed on how to set up industrial parks at Dongo Kundu in Mombasa, Voi, Mtito Andei, Nairobi and Naivasha which will help us create jobs for our young people,” he said.
China Road and Bride Corporation (CRBC) is implementing the SGR project that has already created an estimated 30,000 jobs for Kenyans, fulfilling one of the major demands that jobs be handed to local communities during the construction of what is the biggest investment in east and central Africa.
Kenyan officials say the modern railway line will ease congestion on the roads while reducing pollution arising from heavy vehicular traffic along Nairobi-Mombasa highway.
Besides promoting investments and growth of industrial sector in the region, the SGR project will also facilitate cross border movement of skilled labor, technology and innovations.
The president was briefed on the progress of the SGR is on schedule, and running within budget.
The rail had by February injected 500 million U.S. dollars directly into the pockets of Kenyan suppliers following Kenyatta’s directive that 40 percent of supplies of goods and services to the SGR be local content, the President was told.
More than 75 percent civil works have been completed on the first phase of the project, with over 235 km trackline laid between Voi and Sultan Hamud.
Major progress has been made on construction of 33 stations including 23 passing stations, eight intermediary stations and two major stations in Mombasa and Nairobi.
The second phase of the project will cover 487 Km from Nairobi-Kisumu-Malaba and it is divided into three sub-phases. These phases include 2A which is 120 km from Nairobi to Naivasha.
Financing has been identified and construction is expected to start in September this year, Kenyatta said.
Phase 2B which is 262 km will stretch from Naivasha-Narok-Bomet-Ahero-Kisumu while phase 2C will cover 107 km from Kisumu-Yala-Mumias-Malaba in western Kenya.
Kenyatta said the implementation of the SGR will not only boost the transport development but also promote integration and industrialization in the East and Central Africa.
The main contractor of the SGR project, China Road and Bridge Corporation, has set up small construction camps along the route of the track to ensure smooth and efficient operations.
Xinhua / Zainab Sa’id