Kenya unveils $3.2 billion first new railway in a century (PHOTOS, VIDEO)


More than a century after a colonial railway gave birth to modern Kenya, the country is betting on a new Chinese-built route to cement its position as the gateway to East Africa.

The $3.2 billion (2.8 billion euro) railway linking Nairobi with the port city of Mombasa will Wednesday take its first passengers on the 472 kilometre (293 mile) journey, allowing them to skip a hair-raising drive on one of Kenya's most dangerous highways.

The railway is the country's biggest infrastructure project since independence, and while it has courted controversy, it is a key selling point for the ruling Jubilee party ahead of August elections.

It is also part of a "master plan" by east African leaders to connect their nations by rail, with the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) planned to eventually link Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, Burundi and Ethiopia.

"There is no country which has ever developed without having a very robust railway system. It was long overdue," Kenya's Transport Minister James Macharia told AFP.




























He said not upgrading the railway in over 100 years "has dragged us backwards in terms of development."

The 'Lunatic Express' -

It was on May 30, 1896, that colonial Britain began building a railway from what is today Kenya's coast to improve access to the riches of Uganda, showing little interest in the wild land in between.

The railway, steeped in tales of swashbuckling colonial adventure and beloved by tourists up until its last, creaking journey in April, is credited with shaping Kenya into its current form.

The capital Nairobi, today a regional hub, was a swampy outpost with no particular attraction until it became the headquarters of Kenya Railways.

The construction of the railway is the stuff of legend, with British and Indian workers terrorised by a pair of lions said to have devoured some 135 men.

The train was later dubbed the "Lunatic Express".

- 'Bad negotiations' -

Some see a touch of folly in its successor too.

In as much as the old line traced the development of colonial Kenya, the new railway has proven a mirror for modern Kenya: dogged by corruption accusations, battling environmental concerns while trying to position itself as the gateway to east Africa.

The World Bank, and others, warned that building a new railway, instead of refurbishing the old one, was by far the most expensive option.

However, the government went ahead with the project, skipping an open tender to make a direct deal with China -- whose Export-Import Bank has loaned Kenya 90 percent of the venture's cost.

"We should ask: 'Why did you negotiate this badly'?" said Kwame Owino, head of the Nairobi-based Institute of Economic Affairs.

He points to similar Chinese-built railways in Ethiopia, Tanzania and elsewhere on the continent which cost much less per kilometre.

Macharia dismisses this argument, saying Kenya's SGR could carry more cargo, and passes through trickier terrain.

He said the government expects the railway to boost GDP by 1.5 percent, allowing them to pay back the loan "in about four years".

"I think that is a little bit of wishful thinking," said Owino, questioning assumptions about the volume of cargo available to be carried, while warning high growth rates in east Africa were beginning to moderate.

He said the government, whose debt has doubled in three years, would be forced to raise taxes to cover the bill.

"My feeling as an economist is that it is going to be a white elephant, but as a taxpayer I hope not," said Owino.

Trucks currently take two days to carry goods from Mombasa to Nairobi, while the train will take eight hours. Passenger trains will take around five hours.

The railway will be managed by the Chinese contractor for five years, with 610 Chinese workers in charge, while Kenyans are trained to take over.

- Environmental woes -

The railway has also concerned environmentalists, as it cuts through a key wildlife migration route.

Ben Okita of Save The Elephants said that while underpasses have been built to allow elephants to cross, the creation of an embankment and fencing around the new railway was creating deadly confusion.

Previously one or two elephants were killed annually, but since 2016, 10 elephants have been hit on the old route.

"They are used to crossing the old line and then they get to the new railway line and they find the fence and they get confused, in the process they are hit by a train," said Okita.

The next leg of the SGR, to connect Nairobi with the Rift Valley town of Naivasha at a cost of $1.5 billion has also caused a furore as it will cut through the capital's iconic national park.

The government is currently negotiating the financing to link Naivasha to Kisumu near the Ugandan border, which Macharia says is expected to cost another $3.5 billion.

AFP, Photo credit: SGR Kenya (Twitter)

Comments

  1. Good stuff. Proud of our President Uhuru Kenyatta. We wish our Nigerian brothers and sisters all the best.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We salute government of kenya for making us "Kenyans" realize development is the key to success as africans

      Delete
    2. In my opinion, this is an incredible project that will benefit Kenyans for many centuries to come if the maintenance isn't neglected. I guess those who are talking ill of the project are people from the opposition. The same thing happens everywhere in Africa. Members of the opposition take their role as literally opposing everything the incumbent government even the good projects! It's shame for such leaders. The continent lags behind in terms of development because of such leaders among other reasons. I wish every African country undertakes such a project to boost bilateral trade. It will be a step forward. I don't always feel good when I only seen a railway like the Kenyan one in 1st world countries.

      Delete
    3. Congratulations to the Kenyan Nation!
      I am proud of this infrastructure.
      selling.blogspot.com

      Delete
  2. Hello,
    I Read the article of a very great spell caster and it seems very helpful
    to me. I haven’t had the chance to have a proper relationship with my ex
    because we work together. This will be the final week or work and then I
    wont be around him constantly. Unfortunately, I broke one of the rules in
    the article and have been sleeping with him. Something I’m not proud of,
    especially since he has a girlfriend. Not to mention that she’s a girl he
    dated off and on for 3 years before he dated me.
    When I asked him why he kept sleeping with me even though he was in a
    relationship, his response was because I wanted it, and he wantve him all to
    myself. That was when i read about Dr alexzander on how he help people in
    saving their relationship and i was really desperate for his help. There
    were things in our relationship that were tough. We traveled for 4 months
    right in the beginning, and it was hard due to different expectations. When
    we returned our living situation was unstable which caused a lot of stress
    on my end. And when I ask why he didn’t give me a chance to make things
    better he said he gave me tons of chances. Oh, and he compared our
    relationship with his past. He says that things were great, and then they
    went bad really fast, and that why his back with is Ex. Because it at least
    took them years for things to get that bad. So i was very sad and
    disappointing and decided to contact this spell caster for help with tears
    running out of my eyes and Dr alexzander promised to make things right in
    my relationship and also assured me that my boyfriend is going to come back
    to me within 78hrs. At first i was shock and didn't believe him because i
    thought it was impossible to do. But i gave it a try and trusted him. Dr
    alexzander asked for my details and his, then guarantee me of his return.
    Truly my ex lover started calling me and also begging me to forgive him and
    that's his willing to give us a second chance, then promised me never to
    love any other woman apart from me. it all seem like a miracle to me till
    now. Dr alexzander. Words can't express how i feel right now. it been 2
    month now since you caste that love spell for me and nothing have gone bad
    between us. his now caring more than ever and also the loving kind of Man i
    have ever wanted for myself in life. I thank you Dr alexzander for saving
    my relationship. Indeed you are the best. I want to use this media to share
    my testimony for the whole world to see and know that there is still hope
    in your broken relationship, No matter how bad it seems don't give up hope
    and also contact this man who saved my own. you can reach him through his
    website address http://alexzanderhightemple-com.webs.com or contact him
    direct with his email address alexzanderhightemple@gmail.com. I thank you
    Dr alexzander for helping me and i will always share my testimony in every
    social media or place i may go to.
    (From United State Of America).
    Mrs Tracy Grilli.
    http://tracygrilli.blogspot.com.tr
    https://tracygrilli59.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. THIS IS GENUINE. NO SCAM. Hi! My name is Myriam Boyer. I want to tell my testimony to the whole world how this great and powerful man called great baba helped me to bring back my partner. My man left me for another lady for five years. I almost gave up until my friend advised me and introduced me to this great man whom she met on the internet. I never believed at first but she encouraged me and i tried to believe and contacted him on his email. I told and explained everything to him and he assured me that he will help me and that i should not worry too much. I believed him and i did all that he asked me to do which i did and it work perfectly and my husband came back to me begging for forgiveness. I am so happy and excited now. I discovered that when my husband came back he even loved me more than the way he used to love me before he left me. great baba opened up his eyes to see how much i love him and how much love we ought to share together as one. This is not brain washing contact great baba now on his email: Highersolutiontemple@yahoo.com

    AND YOU CAN ALSO CHECK HIM ON:

    Greatbabaofsolution.blogspot.com

    Highersolutiontemple.blogspot.com

    THIS IS GENUINE. NO SCAM. Hi! My name is Myriam Boyer. I want to tell my testimony to the whole world how this great and powerful man called great baba helped me to bring back my partner. My man left me for another lady for five years. I almost gave up until my friend advised me and introduced me to this great man whom she met on the internet. I never believed at first but she encouraged me and i tried to believe and contacted him on his email. I told and explained everything to him and he assured me that he will help me and that i should not worry too much. I believed him and i did all that he asked me to do which i did and it work perfectly and my husband came back to me begging for forgiveness. I am so happy and excited now. I discovered that when my husband came back he even loved me more than the way he used to love me before he left me. great baba opened up his eyes to see how much i love him and how much love we ought to share together as one. This is not brain washing contact great baba now on his email: Highersolutiontemple@yahoo.com

    AND YOU CAN ALSO CHECK HIM ON:

    Greatbabaofsolution.blogspot.com

    Highersolutiontemple.blogspot.com

    THIS IS GENUINE. NO SCAM. Hi! My name is Myriam Boyer. I want to tell my testimony to the whole world how this great and powerful man called great baba helped me to bring back my partner. My man left me for another lady for five years. I almost gave up until my friend advised me and introduced me to this great man whom she met on the internet. I never believed at first but she encouraged me and i tried to believe and contacted him on his email. I told and explained everything to him and he assured me that he will help me and that i should not worry too much. I believed him and i did all that he asked me to do which i did and it work perfectly and my husband came back to me begging for forgiveness. I am so happy and excited now. I discovered that when my husband came back he even loved me more than the way he used to love me before he left me. great baba opened up his eyes to see how much i love him and how much love we ought to share together as one. This is not brain washing contact great baba now on his email: Highersolutiontemple@yahoo.com

    AND YOU CAN ALSO CHECK HIM ON:

    Greatbabaofsolution.blogspot.com

    Highersolutiontemple.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment