Second railway line between Mombasa and Nairobi to start in 2013/14 FY


(Posted 12th June 2013)

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary, aka minister for Transport and Infrastructure Michael Kamau gave the clearest indication yet that President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government is fully committed to have a second, standard gauge railway built to connect the port of Mombasa with the capital Nairobi.

Kamau was quoted in Kenya’s local media to have complained about the performance of current railway concessionaire Rift Valley Railways, which was some years ago given a joint concession by Uganda and Kenya to manage the railway system, improve it and make it more efficient. ‘Upon its concession to the Rift Valley Railways seven years ago, the railways was handling 1.5 million tonnes of cargo. Today, it handles less than 1 million tonnes and this is unacceptable’ was he quoted to have said, clearly showing the exasperation within government circles over RVR’s inability to perform within the concession parameters. Passenger rail transport, especially in Nairobi, has already been taken out of RVR’s concession when last year the new line between Syokimau and Nairobi central was commissioned after RVR’s failure to make headway in creating new passenger services was cited for that decision at the time.

Cabinet Secretary Kamau was on his inaugural visit to the Kenya Ports Authority where he held talks with KPA officials, senior staff of Kenya Railways and stakeholders, all of whom agreed that the elimination of the bottleneck of transportation of goods, and passengers, between Mombasa and Nairobi was a critical element in Kenya’s economic progress. Besides the LAPSSET project, which foresees the construction of a new deep sea harbour in Lamu – work is already underway – in combination with a railway, highway and pipeline corridor connecting the new port with South Sudan and Ethiopia, this new railway line will be part of the country’s major infrastructure boost. In past years have major highways towards and across Nairobi taken shape and alongside major expansion projects for Nairobi’s international airport are bound to catapult Kenya firmly into the 21st century, allowing for economic transformation and to cement the country’s position as East Africa’s leading economy and transit route from the ocean to the hinterland.

When Kenya’s budget estimates are presented next week to the National Assembly, it is expected that major infrastructure projects will take a big share in the fund allocation so that tenders can be issued and work commence within the first year of the Kenyatta presidency.

Tourism stakeholders have in the past made it clear that key highway projects, like the new southern bypass around Nairobi, the construction of an elevated section across Nairobi, the bypass from the Nairobi to Mombasa highway to the south coast of Mombasa, a second bridge from Mombasa to the northern mainland, a resolution of the eternal traffic jams out of Mombasa on to the Nairobi highway in Changamwe and the new road link from Voi, through the Taita Hills to the Taveta border with Tanzania and on to Moshi and Arusha are critical for their sector too. Special emphasis has been put by the tourism industry on the modernization and expansion of key airports like Nairobi and Mombasa, to facilitate passenger growth on which especially the MICE sector will depend for future expansion. Kenya, and in particular Nairobi, are ranking high among foreign visitors as conference destinations and are second only after South Africa, when it comes to the number of conferences held. Watch this space for future updates.

3 Responses

  1. What does RVR have to say about their non performance? That would be a great article as a balance to your perfect piece on the growth of infrastructure in Kenya.

    1. Thank you for reading my blog. RVR has been saying a lot, in their defense and in mitigation, and while they have done some things, it is clearly not nearly enough and way below the targets which the two governments have set. Time will tell but once competition comes into play, they will find it very hard to compete with their present rolling stock, narrow gauge and perhaps most important, their attitude shown so far.

  2. Instead of spending billions on a new railway line, why not revamp the existing one?

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