Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen has lauded the Belt and Road Initiative saying the Kenyan people are reaping its economic fruits.
As a result, the Minister says the Kenyan government will be seeking additional partnerships with the Chinese government in various fields in a bid to spur the country’s economy.
“Kenya as a country is one of the countries that have greatly benefited from the Belt and Road Initiative that was proposed by President Xi Jinping. We have benefited from projects like the Standard Gauge Railway. The railway line has eased movement of goods. It has also helped cut costs of transportation,” he said in an interview ahead of the BRI Summit to be held in China’s capital, Beijing, this week.
“We also have roads that have been constructed through BRI. The Northern Bypass, the Southern Bypass and the Nairobi Expressway as some of the examples,” he added
Murkomen singled out the northern corridor, developed with assistance from China, saying it has been of great assistance especially in the transport of goods and cargo. He says the corridor has been a big boost to businesspeople from most parts of Africa such as Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, DR Congo and South Sudan.
President William Ruto is already in Beijing and is leading a Kenyan delegation to the forum. The Transport CS confirmed that among other things, Kenya will hold talks with China to discuss extension of SGR from Naivasha all the way to Kampala in Uganda and later to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“The SGR will benefit us more if we extend it to neighboring countries. We also want to ensure SGR makes Kenya competitive when it comes to transportation issues because other countries are also coming up with similar projects,” he said
The SGR, according to Murkomen, has been a game changer as far as transportation and economy is concerned.
“We have increased the amount of cargo transported through SGR ever since it was commissioned. SGR returns are also very encouraging and the project is currently making profit. The Railway line has also helped reduce damage on our roads because we no longer have many trucks transporting cargo. It has also helped reduce road accidents,” he said, adding that “those travelling between Nairobi and Mombasa have also benefited greatly in terms of time and cost,”
While highlighting the projects benefit to the economy, the CS said the project has provided job opportunities to Kenyans. He said most of them have taken charge of most operations in the SGR amid deliberate efforts by China to carry out technological transfer.
“We have young people from Kenya who have been receiving training in China now back and working at the SGR. Almost 90 percent of operations in the line are being run by Kenyans,” he said
“Our relations have opened up doors to have most of our young people pursuing further studies in China with the help of Chinese government scholarships,” the transport minister noted
Ahead of talks in Beijing, the CS disclosed that there are a number Chinese investors who have expressed interest in the extension of SGR line, expansion of Kenya’s ports and establishment of special economic zones.
“We are exploring avenues where we can work with them through the Public Private Partnership model,” he said