By O’Brien Kimani
NAIROBI, Feb 16 (NNN-KBC) — The Kenyan government will start importing locomotives, wagons and passenger coaches in readiness for the launch of the country’s Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project.
The project, which has reached 65 per cent completion, is expected to be commissioned in June next year, says Kenya Railway Managing Director Atanus Maina, adding that the the rail operator plans to import 60 locomotive, 1,600 goods wagons and 40 passenger coaches in the middle of this year.
The Standard Gauge Railway line is being touted as one of the most ambitious infrastructure project in post-independence Kenya. The 427-kilometre railway line starts at the Indian ocean port of Mombasa, snaking northwest through various towns to Nairobi.
Launched in 2013, the 375 billion shillings (about 3.7 billion US dollars) project is expected to be commissioned next year, one year ahead of schedule. Maina allayed fears that the project was running behind schedule.
The SGR runs through the counties of Mombasa, Kwale, Taita Taveta, Makueni, Kajiado, Machakos and Nairobi. It is designed to carry 22 million tons of cargo a year.
Addressing journalists during a tour of the project by the Parliamentary Committee on Transport, Maina said sourcing of locomotives, wagons and passenger coaches had started with delivery expected the middle of this year.
The Parliamentary team visited the Athi River station, which will have the longest bridge along the line as well as the Simba, Kyulu and Tsavo stations, which are among the 24 stations the SGR will pass through.
The MPs also visited the Mombasa station where project contractor China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) is reclaiming 70 acres (about 29.33 hectares) from the sea to create land for the railway link to the freight terminal at the port of Mombasa.
Once completed, the SGR project is expected to hugely ease the transportation of goods from the port of Mombasa and improve transportation along Kenya’s Northern Transport Corridor.