President Uhuru Kenyatta has expressed his satisfaction with the progress made on the construction of the first phase of the Standard Gauge Railway project in Kenya. This was during an inspection tour of Section 7 at Sultan Hamud which lies at 362 kilometres of the 472 kilometres SGR route length.
After witnessing the mechanised laying of the assembled tracks, the Head of State climbed on to the embankment and bolted two rails at the fish plate area in a similar gesture to the symbolic tightening of the nut during the launch of the projects construction in 2013.
Speaking at the event, President Uhuru reaffirmed his Government’s commitment to ensure the project is completed on time and transportation of goods and services is commenced. He further said that the Government has already approved the contract for the procurement of 56 locomotives, 1620 freight wagons and 40 passenger coaches that will be docking in Mombasa starting December 2016 in readiness for testing and commissioning.
The President was very emphatic that the Counties and the residents of the affected Counties need to embrace the project by identifying the myriad of opportunities that the Project presents in order to maximize value and ensure that the young Kenyans secure their future by engaging in economic activities presented, thereby improving on their livelihoods.
“As I have always said, getting the SGR project completed remains one of the key priorities of my Government and today’s visit is to assure Kenyans that indeed kazi inatendeka. I am impressed by the work that has been done so far, and glad that whatever was put on paper at inception is now coming to life. This project’s construction and eventual operation will be an economic boost not just to the National Government but also the Seven Counties through which this line has traversed. I am sure you have seen the transformation that has taken place already in the centres along the line; this means more connectivity and growth for this Nation,” he said.
The President advised the Ministry of Energy & Petroleum to ensure that The Kenya Power takes advantage of the electric power supply coming with SGR to upscale the supply so that the same can be tapped by other industries and Counties where the line traverses.
On his part, the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development Mr. James Macharia said the project has employed thousands of locals and has also presented traders with opportunities to increase their trade volumes and earn more revenue.
“We are exactly one year to the launch date of this milestone project, and Kenyans are already reaping from the project with close to 30,000 having been employed on the project. Importers and exporters will be the biggest winners when the cargo trains start roaring. Already, businessmen are transacting with the contractor in supplying goods and services needed during this construction phase and this way they have benefitted immensely from the project,” he said.
While addressing the media at the same event, Kenya Railways Managing Director Mr. A. K. Maina said that the testing of the line which is expected to happen a few months to the date that the line will go live; will mark the launch of operations the first ever SGR line in East Africa’s history.
“Over 80 per cent civil works have been completed on phase one of the project with over 280 KM track-line having been laid between Emali and Voi. The track laying process is expected to be completed before December with the first batch of locomotives expected to be delivered in six months’ time. We then will commence testing of the line in preparations for actual operations,” explained Kenya Railways Managing Director Mr. A.K Maina.
Once completed, the modern, high capacity Standard Gauge Railway line will carry a trailing load of 4,000 tonnes on each train. The new locomotive engines will be able to pull double stacked containers for cargo while passenger wagons will span up to 700m in length carrying a1,096 passengers. The freight terminals will be located at the Mombasa Port Station and the Inland Container Depots at Embakasi in Nairobi. The expansion and modernization of the ICD at Embakasi will be fast tracked to be ready by June 2017 in order to guarantee efficient evacuation of cargo.