Kenya outlines plan to revive century-old railway network

24th May 2019

By: John Muchira

Creamer Media Correspondent


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Kenya intends to revive its century-old metre-gauge railway (MGR) line after failing to secure funding to extend the standard-gauge railway (SGR) network to the border town of Malaba.

The East African nation has announced plans to undertake a $210-million project to rehabilitate and upgrade the MGR network from Naivasha, where the SGR network terminates, to Malaba, on the Ugandan border.

Upgrading of the old line will cost $150-million, with an extra $60-million required to build a 43 km stretch to connect to the SGR network.

“We shall quickly, very urgently, build a link between the SGR Naivasha and the MGR Naivasha to make sure there’s seamless transshipment when goods get to Mombasa,” says Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia.

He adds that the upgrade will be undertaken as a public–private partnership, with the private partner or partners expected to provide funding.

The project, which will start in August, is expected to be completed in about a year.

Kenya has been forced to rehabilitate the MGR line after failing to secure a $3.6-billion loan from China to extend the SGR network from Naivasha to the lakeside city of Kisumu and later to Malaba.

China has been the sole financier of the $4.6-billion, 607 km SGR line, which stretches from the coastal city of Mombasa to Nairobi and onwards to Naivasha. Phase 2A, the stretch from Nairobi to Naivasha, is slated for completion in August.

Uganda is also rehabilitating its MGR line from Malaba to Kampala at a cost of $170-million. The country plans to upgrade two lines, Malaba–Kampala and Tororo–Gulu.

The two countries contend that rehabilitating the line, christened the ‘Lunatic Express’, is critical in facilitating faster cargo transport between the neighbouring countries.

Uganda accounts for more than 80% of the cargo traffic that passes through the Mombasa port.


Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor



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