By Margaret Kalekye/Release
The government is finalizing an agreement that will see the current contractors of the Standard Gauge Railway supervise its operations for the next five years.
The move, according to the Cabinet Secretary for Transport James Macharia, will buffer the country against accountability issues and safety concerns that may accompany the project.
“We are about to formalize the agreement with the contractors. They will initially operate the railway. After it has been tested and we are sure it is safe, it (the operations) will be given to us,” he said when he toured Athi River to inspect the development.
The China Roads and Bridges Corporation (CRBC) was the firm tasked to construct the railway line between Mombasa and Nairobi.
The first phase of the SGR project is ahead of the 1st June schedule and the construction of the Nairobi-Naivasha phase will commence on October.
The Sh420 billion project is 80 per cent complete and is expected to offer cheaper and faster transportation solutions across the country.
The freight costs will fall to $0.08 per tonne/Km from $0.2 per tonne/ Km and average trip from Mombasa to Nairobi using train will average four hours.
Kenya Railways has already sent orders for 56 trains that will operate the route by next year according to its managing director Atanas Maina.
They include 8 shanting, 5 passengers and 43 mainline locomotives. Also 1,620 wagons – a mixture of both boxed and flat – have been ordered.
One train will be able to transport 216 20-feet containers in a journey which translates to about 108 trucks on the road.
Mr Maina also allayed fears that SGR would cripple trucking industry as there will be enough cargo to sustain both sectors.
“Of the 27 million cargo annually, we will eventually be able to transport 22 million cargo per year. The trucks will still have their market share as they only have a capacity to carry 1.2 million tonnes. There will be enough business for all of us,” he said.