In Summary
  • Controversy has been raging  over the capacity of the Chinese company especially after critics said that it was basically a roads and bridges contractor with little experience in railway construction.
  • But according to the government, the first phase of the new line will cost $2.9 million per kilometre.

Plans to build a new standard gauge railway line from Mombasa will enter a decisive stage on Thursday with the ground-breaking ceremony for the country’s largest infrastructure project in many years.

Kenya is keen to strengthen its positions as the logistics hub in East Africa.

Supporters of the railway project have said that the cost of transporting cargo will go down by 60 per cent.

Expected to be completed in 2016, its sponsors have said that it will take a passenger train four hours to travel between Nairobi and Mombasa and a passenger will pay Sh800 as fare.

Freight trains will move at 80 kilometres per hour, reducing the journey to eight hours from the current 36.

Airlines, container freight stations, trucking companies and bus firms will come under renewed competition from rail transport.

However, the manner in which the gigantic project was procured is the subject of a raging controversy in the National Assembly, with critics suggesting that the price was too high.

But according to the government, the first phase of the new line will cost $2.9 million per kilometre.

The plan is to award the project to the state-owned China Roads and Bridges Corporation, who will also supply a total of 56 locomotives.

Ethiopia, which is currently building a railway line between Sabeta and Mieso in the Northern part of the country, is building it’s line at $3.8 million a kilometre.

In Uganda, Gauff Consultants of Germany, who have been retained as consultants for the Malaba-Kampala section of the Standard Gauge Railway, have estimated the cost at $9.3 million per kilometre.

The wide variations between the three projects mainly reflects differences in altitude, gradient, geographical conditions, the cost of labour, steel and cement.

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