The Government has started negotiations with the company building the Standard Gauge Railway for the extension of the line from Nairobi to Naivasha. This was revealed yesterday at a meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President Wiiliam Ruto, cabinet secretaries and officials of China Roads and Bridges in Voi.
The extension of 120 kilometres will link special industrial zones that would be established at Naivasha, which is home to the Olkaria geothermal power plants, to Nairobi and Mombasa. To attract investors to set up industrial complexes at the specially designated zones near Olkaria, the Government will offer them subsidised power tariffs.
Firms will also have their power connected directly from Olkaria to ensure uninterrupted supplies, and in some cases, companies – such as those dealing in apparel manufacturing – will be allowed access to steam. The Government also plans to set up many industrial parks along the route of the SGR. Already, the Ministry of Industrialisation has identified land for setting up industrial parks in Mariakani, Voi, Naivasha, Athi River and Emali.
Industrialisation and Enterprise Development Cabinet Secretary Aden Mohamed said his ministry is already in talks with the owners of the lands near the train stations and expects that acquisition will be completed by within the next financial year. At the meeting, which is held quarterly between the Government and the Chinese company, President Kenyatta directed all ministries and agencies to ensure they play their role in ensuring that the construction of the SGR is not impeded. “We must to everything in our power to ensure that the SGR is delivered on time and on budget,” President Kenyatta said. “There must be no laxity in terms of delivering what is one of our most transformational projects.”
President Kenyatta directed Cabinet Secretaries to take charge of resolving any issue that might delay the construction of the railway. Some of the issues that the meeting agreed should be resolved before the next meeting in August include moving of power lines from the route of the railway line and issue of public facilities that might be affected by the line.
The meeting was held after President Kenyatta and the Deputy President toured the construction of the Voi River Super Bridge. The bridge, which cuts through the Tsavo National Park’s elephant corridor, has a length of two kilometres and an elevation of 18 feet.
It was part of the SGR design to construct the expensive super bridge to avoid interfering with the migration of elephants. The officials of the Chinese company and Kenya Railways briefed the President on the progress of the whole project. The construction of bridges and culverts in most of parts of the route is now complete and laying of tracks is scheduled to start in October.
Speaking at an event in Voi late on Tuesday, Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero said the eight counties through which the SGR will pass were watching progress keenly, aware that the line would totally transform how business is run. “We want to see it reach Nairobi ahead of schedule. We, the governors of 47 counties and especially the 8 that the line will pass through, are excited and keen that thus line be delivered as quickly as possible,” he said.
Cabinet Secretaries who accompanied the President during the tour included Health CS James Macharia who is also the acting Transport CS, Internal Security CS Joseph Nkaissery, Environment CS Judy Wakhungu and Sports CS Hassan Wario.