- Country risks seeing Tanzania take a leading position in regional shipping business should it complete building its ports and rail before Kenya.
- The upgraded Tanzanian central line on a standard gauge is expected to ship 35 million tonnes of freight annually to landlocked Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, and eastern DRC — countries that currently rely on Kenya’s infrastructure.
Kenya’s status as the regional logistics hub could greatly be weakened should work on the standard gauge railway delay, says the government.
It is also feared that the Port of Mombasa could grind to a halt should Tanzania complete the $330 million harmonisation of its railroad network with those across Central and Southern Africa ahead of the East African standard gauge railway.
“This is Kenya’s chance to prove that it is an economic powerhouse by linking East and West Africa. If this fails, the economic loss may be huge,” said Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet secretary Michael Kamau.
He said this in his presentation to the parliamentary Transport Committee investigating the capacity of the China Bridges and Roads Company (CBRC) to build the Mombasa-Malaba standard gauge railway and why the contract was single-sourced.
Nyali MP Hazron Awitti had wanted the team to compel the government to cancel the tender and advertise it afresh for international bidding to protect the country’s image.
But Mr Kamau said failing to complete the project on time might kill the Port of Mombasa and that the Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) project would be useless.
“The current 100 year-old railway sub-sector needs to be revamped to play its rightful role in the economy,” said Mr Kamau.
UPGRADED TANZANIAN CENTRAL LINE
The upgraded Tanzanian central line on a standard gauge is expected to ship 35 million tonnes of freight annually to landlocked Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, and eastern DRC — countries that currently rely on Kenya’s infrastructure.
In comparison, the East African standard gauge railway, planned to be operational by 2018, is poised to haul 28 million tonnes of cargo annually between Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda. Kenyas position as a gateway into East Africa has been under constant threat from Tanzania, which is currently constructing the region’s largest port at Bagamoyo at a cost of $11 billion.