The extension of the 24 km meter-gauge railway (MGR) line from Mai Mahiu Inland Depot Container (ICD) to Longonot town in Naivasha is now complete.
This now paves way for the evacuation of cargo from the ICD to Malaba in a move meant to reduce the amount of days taken to ferry goods from the Port of Mombasa to Uganda.
This comes as Kenya Railways (KR) embarked on a test trial for the Sh3.5B railway line that has been constructed by China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC).
This emerged when the parliamentary committee on finance and planning visited the ICD and the meter-gauge railway line following concerns over the profitability of the project.
According to Kenya Railways MD Phillip Mainga, the extension would connect the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) with the MGR.
Maingi said that this would hasten the process of ferrying goods from Mombasa to neighboring countries as the railway was faster than the road by over ten days.
“The extension of the 24km meter-gauge railway is now complete and once we are through with the trials we shall commission the line in November,” he said.
Addressing the press after touring the line and the ICD, Mainga noted that previously there were connectivity challenges in evacuating goods to the neighboring countries.
He noted that between 2017 to date, the government agency had ferried over 4m tonnes of cargo with this expected to rise in the coming days.
“Thirty percent of cargo on our roads is destined for regional countries and with the connectivity complete we expect to use the railway line to ferry this cargo,” he said.
Wajir South M Mohammed Sheikh Mohammed who is a member of the committee said that they were keen to investigate if the SGR was cost effective.
He admitted that there was concern over the profitability of the railway adding that they would seek to know the full cost, transparency and effectiveness of the new railway line.
“Kenya is now an economic hub for the region and the rehabilitation of the railway line is an investment for the future,” he said.
On his part, Kisumu Town East Mp Shakeel Shabir defended the government over the cost used in constructing the SGR.
He said that globally, railway lines were not supposed to make profit but spur the economy and development of a country.
“Once the rehabilitation of the railway line is complete, it will open up trade between the Western region and neighboring countries of Uganda and Tanzania,” he said.