Economy of Taita-Taveta County is poised for a historic boom once the residents of the region exploit the massive potential offered by the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), leaders have said.
The biggest beneficiaries will be small-scale traders, boda boda riders and young entrepreneurs who have in the past complained of inadequate markets and limited business opportunities.
The SGR will also be a boon for large scale traders dealing with bulk commodities and distribution of goods to other regions.
Taita-Taveta Senator Dan Mwazo noted that the region was home to the third largest SGR station along Nairobi-Mombasa route.
The station will be used by thousands of commuters from the four sub-counties of Voi, Mwatate, Wundanyi and Taveta while traveling to and from various destinations.
Mwazo added that such high influx of people offered business opportunities for traders, transporters and will provide essential goods and services for the passengers.
Speaking in Voi on Wednesday during the official launch of SGR passenger train by President Kenyatta, the senator called upon the youth to be proactive and seek to exploit available opportunities.
The train has brought us opportunities that we should utilize fully to realize the potential of this region, he said.
Taita-Taveta Women Rep Joyce Lay pleaded with the head of state to ensure that all land compensation cases arising from SGR were wholly settled.
She pointed out that a few pending cases needed to be addressed to ensure all residents were compensated.
The launch comes at a time when the government has pledged to establish a dry port in Voi for handling of bulk cargo.
The dry port is part of Vision 2030 project under the general programme to establish 20 Special Economic Zones (SEZ) across the country for maximum utilization of local resources.
The special Economic Zones Act 2015 will guide how the zones will be established.
Taita-Taveta County is one of the designated SEZ that will largely be dealing with livestock processing and exportation in international market.
The region is classified as Disease Free Zone which makes it suitable for rearing of beef cattle for markets in Middle East and Asia.
Mwazo said the cargo train would pick and drop large supplies at the dry port.
The facility would serve both the local and regional markets. The port would also serve sections of Northern Tanzania that is accessible by Mwatate-Taveta-Holili road, he added.
In his speech, President Uhuru reiterated that the SGR would complement the functions of the dry port through timely delivery of goods to both buyers and suppliers.
The assurance that Voi would host a dry port in the region will calm the nerves of the local residents who have been jittery over claims the Voi dry-port had been relocated to Naivasha.
Ms. Grace Alama, a trader in Voi, admitted she had believed ‘their port’ had been taken away until the president confirmed otherwise.
She added that she had started mobilizing a dozen other women to offer catering services at the SGR station.
Source: Kenya News Agency