Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia has said China is on the final stages of realizing funds for Phase 2B of the Standard Gauge Railway.
The phase 2B that comprised extending SGR from Naivasha to Kisumu is still on, with the aim of reaching Malaba in Uganda — which is Kenya’s biggest client of transit cargo at the port of Mombasa.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday on the sidelines of the Forum for China Africa Cooperation (Focac) in Beijing, Mr Macharia said that since the SGR is a regional project, Kenya is aligning it with what its neighboUr Uganda is doing.
He said that the time for completing the whole project might have changed but plans to extend it to Malaba have not.
“Kenya is the entry gate of the SGR, which runs from Lamu-Mombasa-Naivasha-Kisumu-Lake Victoria all the way to the Atlantic Ocean in West Africa. However, Kenya cannot develop it on its own because it will not be viable due to the fact that 30 percent of cargo from Mombasa is on transit, of which 85 percent goes to Uganda. There is need to harmonise the SGR with what countries in the region are doing,” said Mr Macharia.
Currently, there is an ongoing rehabilitation of the former Meter Gauge Railway from Naivasha to Malaba.
In April, CS Macharia said that it was urgent to connect the two destinations as it will save on time and ensure seamless transportation of cargo from the port of Mombasa to Kampala.
“What we’ve prioritized is making sure that when goods get to Naivasha, they’re not marooned. What is important is to make sure we have connectivity by ensuring that we have a trans-shipment point in Naivasha from SGR to MGR,” Macharia said.
We want to make the MGR line more viable by connecting it to SGR,” the CS pointed out.
He downplayed fears that upgrading of the old railway could see an end to the SGR, arguing that the venture is an intervention as the country awaits funding from Beijing.
Meanwhile, SGR project from Mombasa to Naivasha is at 98% and will commence in September 2019.