Rugged terrain between Nairobi and Naivasha doubles cost of SGR

What you need to know:

  • The topography from Mombasa to Nairobi is almost flat although there are 98 bridges and 967 culverts along the stretch.

  • Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) Managing Director Atanas Maina said the rugged terrain would require 28.2 kilometre bridges and 8.5 kilometre tunnels, which make up 30 per cent of the route and this is what will push up the budget.

The rugged terrain between Nairobi and Naivasha has almost doubled the cost of the second phase of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), the government says.

The cost of constructing the 120 kilometres will be Sh153 billion ($1.5 billion), which is a lot more than the Sh327 billion  ($3.8 billion) spent on the 427 kilometres from Mombasa to Nairobi, if the money is calculated per kilometre.

The government has been forced to explain the cost, following claims that the budget is inflated.

Similar concerns were raised over the first phase of the SGR, with the Opposition and civil society alleging the cost had been inflated.

In fact, the deal secured at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in South Africa is only 85 per cent of the financing extended by China Eximbank, while Kenya will provide the balance.

FLAT TOPOGRAPHY

The topography from Mombasa to Nairobi is almost flat although there are 98 bridges and 967 culverts along the stretch.

In a statement, Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) Managing Director Atanas Maina said the rugged terrain would require 28.2 kilometre bridges and 8.5 kilometre tunnels, which make up 30 per cent of the route and this is what will push up the budget.

Mr Maina said the section would be built over four-and-a-half years, including drilling a 5.3-kilometre tunnel at the edge of the Great Rift Valley escarpment.

“One of the tunnels at the edge of the escarpment will be 5.3 kilometres and will take years to drill hence the length of time it will take to complete the line,” Mr Maina added.

He also said the deal was negotiated as a lump sum with the contractor bearing the risk of variation as specified under the Turn-key EPC Contract.

This may have been informed by currency risks as the cost of inputs for the Mombasa section ballooned when the shilling slid more than 10 per cent against the US dollar.

The line will start at the Nairobi South Marshalling Yard and will run along the boundary of the Nairobi National Park up to Ole Sereni Hotel, off Mombasa Road.

It turns south towards Bangladesh slums at the western tip of the park, then turns north along the western boundary of the park and crosses Lang’ata Road to the south of the cemetery.

It will then join the pipeline corridor to Dagoretti and follow its corridor inside the Ngong Forest to the edge of the Great Rift Valley escarpment. The  railway will then follow the escarpment to Mai Mahiu, cross road B33, pass south of mount Longonot and end at Naivasha.

PHASE FROM NAIVASHA TO KISUMU

There will be another phase of 262 kilometres from Naivasha to Kisumu through Narok, Bomet and Sondu.

This will include building of a new high capacity port in  Kisumu that will be connected by an 8.9-kilometre branch line to the mainline. Another 107-kilometre phase from Kisumu will end at Malaba.

The cost was also pushed up by construction of one intermediate passenger station at Mai Mahiu and a freight intermodal exchange centre to be developed at 100 kilometres south of Mt Longonot.

Mr Maina said the exchange would be strategically located to serve the proposed Naivasha Industrial Park and transferring freight by road to places along the Naivasha, Nakuru–Eldoret road.

The section will support the park which will be located to south of Lake Naivasha. The line may also require acquisition of large tracts of land, hence money for compensation.

“It was never intended for SGR line to use the existing metre gauge railway corridor since the plan was to terminate at Inland Container Depot at Embakasi, which is to be expanded to handle increased cargo,” Mr Maina said.

State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu said part of the package the President secured  is the expansion and the modernisation of the Inland Container Depot at Embakasi will be separately funded.

The construction to begin next year, will cut through the Nairobi National Park and will be elevated to allow free movement of wildlife.

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