Will the Standard Gauge Railway terminate in Naivasha?

Ongoing construction works at the Standard Gauge Railway marshalling yard at the Mombasa port second container terminal on March 22, 2017. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Will the standard gauge railway (SGR) terminate in Naivasha?

“…The SGR was conceived under the Grand Coalition Government, and was supposed to link Mombasa, Nairobi, Kisumu, Kampala, Kigali and Bujumbura. It is now going to a dead end called Naivasha, to somebody’s private land. We will ensure that this project is implemented in accordance with the Vision 2030…”

- Nasa flag-bearer Raila Odinga at the launch of the National Super Alliance manifesto at Ngong Racecourse, Nairobi, on June 28, 2017.

It is true that the standard gauge railway was conceived as part of Vision 2030, according to historical records and the current Vision 2030 website.

In 2012, a list of Kenyan investment projects was floated at a summit in London coinciding with Kenya’s involvement in the Olympic Games in the same city.

The list mentioned a standard gauge railway as part of Lapsset (Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport) project, but not a line from Mombasa to Malaba.

However, a Vision 2030 progress report dated February 1, 2013, a month before the elections that year, stated in a bullet point under the Rail section that “Consultations ongoing with China Exim bank for funding for Mombasa–Nairobi–Malaba–Kisumu Standard Gauge Rail.”

This confirms that the project was conceived during the life of the coalition government and was a Vision 2030 project.

Is the railway ending in Naivasha? Current evidence does not prove that.

In May this year, President Uhuru Kenyatta led a delegation to China seeking funding to build the standard gauge railway from Naivasha to Kisumu. A further extension to Malaba is planned.

Media reports from the time showed Sh327 billion had been spent for the track between Mombasa and Nairobi and Sh150 billion on preliminary work for the proposed Nairobi-Naivasha extension.

On June 23, Transport Secretary James Macharia and Uganda’s minister for transport and public works, Monica Azuba, signed an agreement affirming a commitment to a seamless connection at Malaba, at the Kenya-Uganda border.

At this stage, Uganda’s plans include extending the railway to the borders of Rwanda and the DRC.

Based on available information, the railway will not end in Naivasha. While questioning the rationale of building through Naivasha is not untoward, it is inaccurate to call it a dead end.


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