Kenya Railways likely to ditch RVR on passenger transport when contract ends in June 2013


The woes for struggling Rift Valley Railways just seem to grow, now that Kenya Railways appears set to discontinue the passenger concession given to them and due to expire in June 2013. While RVR has a concession from the Kenya and Uganda governments to run their respective railway systems for 25 years, and badly as it turned out so far, the Kenyan passenger concession was wisely limited to only 5 years in 2006 but extended in 2008 to last till June next year.

Kenya Railways is set to construct a new line connecting Jomo Kenyatta International Airport with the city centre to reduce transfer delays caused by notorious traffic jams and is at an advanced stage towards issuing tender documents as reported here earlier in the week. But it is the recent announcement of the Kenyan government, that they had signed a deal with China to build a brand new standard gauge railway line from Mombasa to Nairobi and up to the border with Uganda, which has generally rattled the RVR management and shareholders, as they continue to lag far behind meeting targets and upgrading the line they were given to manage and improve in 2006. Should that project move from planning to construction, the bell clearly will toll for RVR as they have singularly failed to show the public that they have what it takes to turn East Africa’s dilapidated and aged present system around.

Deloitte in Nairobi was reportedly contracted by Kenya Railways to submit to them a report by the end of this year on how to deal with passenger services, decisive no doubt over the question if to engage a new concessionaire for passenger services and RVR is holding all the bad cards at the moment it seems, unlikely to see their deal renewed.

Whatever the outcome will be, it seems the shine is off the RVR image and the Kenyan government seems set to find new partners to develop crucially important infrastructure required to propel Kenya, and Eastern Africa for that matter, into the new millennium, for once not swayed by powerful business interests but purely motivated by what is best for the country. Watch this space.

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