Funding for Kisumu SGR ready, CS says

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia has confirmed that the completion of the phase 2B of the standard gauge railway from Naivasha to Kisumu is underway, even though the government is rehabilitating the metre gauge line.

He said that that the SGR is a regional project, that Kenya is aligning it to what Uganda is doing, and that much as the completion time has changed, the plans to extend it to Malaba have not changed.

Speaking in Beijing, China, Mr Macharia said, “Kenya is the entry gate of the SGR, which runs from Lamu to Mombasa-Naivasha-Kisumu-Lake Victoria to the Atlantic Ocean in West Africa. However, Kenya cannot develop it on its own because it will not be viable due to the fact that 30 percent of cargo from Mombasa is on transit, of which 85 percent goes to Uganda. There is need to harmonize the SGR with what countries in the region are doing.”

He further explained that the phase 2A is almost complete and will be operational as from September 2019.

“Since by September we shall begin to receive goods at Naivasha, from Mombasa-Naivasha-Kisumu is not yet ready, even if we start it today it will take three to four years. We had to rehabilitate the old railway to Malaba so that while it takes nine hours for goods to arrive in Naivasha, it should take the same time for the goods to reach Uganda, our biggest clients. Without modernizing it, it might take two days,” he said, making it clear that the upgrading of the old railway will not affect the SGR.

Mr Macharia said that SGR was conceptualized by four countries: Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan. Kenya is, however, going on with its part and at no point did China give any ultimatums about funding.

A company owned by China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), Africa Star Railway Operation Company Ltd will manage the operation for 10 years.