In Summary
  • The exorbitant Phase I price tag is cited as an example of the predatory lending practices used by China to fleece developing countries that lack capacity to negotiate and oversee large infrastructure projects.

  • The 120km extension to Naivasha comes at a staggering $12.5 million per kilometre while the Kisumu extension would have cost even more — at an unjustifiable $13.6 million!

  • It is incredible that our government would seek, in good faith, a contract for a project costing three times its value.

The government has denied having — unsuccessfully yet again — sought Chinese funds to extend the standard gauge railway from Naivasha to Kisumu but highly placed diplomatic sources say the embarrassment shows the President may not be receiving sound advice from his top diplomats, economists and other technical experts.

TRANSPARENCY

Yes, there is a need to upgrade our dilapidated railway infrastructure; yet no one thought the Chinese-funded SGR from Mombasa to Nairobi would be among the costliest — at $7 million (Sh700 million) per kilometre on average.

For their electrified rail, Ethiopians paid $4.5 million per kilometre, Nigerians $4.6 million for the Abuja-Kaduna line and Tanzanians $4.0 million for the Dar es Salaam-Morogoro line being developed by a Turkish company.

Evidently, Kenya’s biggest infrastructure project in our lifetime may not have benefitted from honest benchmarking or unbiased study. But Nzioka Waita, Chief of Staff at the State House, contradicted the President on transparency and accountability by asserting that the relevant documents cannot be made public for scrutiny.

And the issue is garnering global attention. Some view this flagship project as an epitome of corruption and incompetence.

The exorbitant Phase I price tag is cited as an example of the predatory lending practices used by China to fleece developing countries that lack capacity to negotiate and oversee large infrastructure projects. The 120km extension to Naivasha comes at a staggering $12.5 million per kilometre while the Kisumu extension would have cost even more — at an unjustifiable $13.6 million!

RENT SEEKING

It is incredible that our government would seek, in good faith, a contract for a project costing three times its value. Besides the difficulty of coming up with suitable collateral to secure the loan, the Chinese may have found it difficult to make such a costly investment in a project of low returns.

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