The construction of Sh420 billion standard gauge railway will be completed before its scheduled completion date, President Uhuru Kenyatta was told during his inspection tour of the project on Saturday.
The SGR project was set for completion in March 2018, but contractors say with more than 75 per cent of the work on the 235km track on the first phase between Voi and Sultan Hamud complete, they are ahead of schedule.
The President visited section seven 7 of the project at Sultan Hamud, where he was told more than three-quarters of the civil works has been done. Uhuru said the government is in talks with investors to put up industrial parks along the SGR line to create jobs.
“We have discussed how to set up industrial parks at Dongo Kundu in Mombasa, Voi, Mtito Andei, Nairobi and Naivasha, which will create jobs for youth,” he said. “Financing has been identified and construction is expected to start in September.”
The main SGR contractor, the China Road and Bridge Corporation, has set up small construction camps on the route to ensure smooth and efficient operations.
Uhuru was told local suppliers pocketed Sh50 billion injected into the economy by the railway project by February. The President has directed 40 per cent of supplies of goods and services to the SGR project be outsourced locally. The project has employed more than 30,000 residents, fulfilling one of the major demands that jobs be handed to local communities during the construction of the biggest investment in East and Central Africa.
The construction of SGR will not only boost the transport development but also promote integration and industrialisation in East and Central Africa. The SGR is expected to ease movement and reduce transportation cost of goods from the Mombasa port to Nairobi, and other destinations, projecting Kenya’s position as a regional business hub.
Phase one of the SGR consists of the stretch from Mombasa to Nairobi. The second phase will cover 487km from Nairobi-Kisumu-Malaba. It is divided into three subphases. These phases include 2A, which is 120km from Nairobi to Naivasha.
Phase 2B, which is 262km, will stretch from Naivasha-Narok-Bomet-Ahero-Kisumu, while phase 2C will cover 107km from Kisumu-Yala-Mumias-Malaba. The contractors said 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 President was accompanied by Transport and Infrastructure CS James Machara and his Interior counterpart Joseph Nkaissery. Kajiado Governor David Nkedienye was present.