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No need for the standard gauge railway in Kenya: Experts

13 March 2014, 22:48 Victor Tinto

Nairobi - There is no need for the standard gauge railway in Kenya, a group of economic experts has charged.

The experts, Kiriro Ngugi and David Nzili, speaking at a forum in Nairobi Wednesday over the economic and financial implication of the deal, said that there was no basis for the standard gauge railway since the current railway can be upgraded to the same level.

They argued that the cost factor for the standard gauge which currently stands at over KES 300 billion, can be reduced to just under KES 20 billion by refurbishing the current line.

According to their analysis, the standard gauge railway does not offer far reaching advantages over the normal railway line considering the cost.

" If you take into account the advantages of the standard gauge over what we currently have in Kenya plus refurbishing costs, it does not make any sense, they said.

" The current railway if refurbished will offer speeds of 80KPH for cargo and 120 KPH for commuter which is just the same as we will get with the standard gauge, they added.

" If you factor the cost, then the money would rather be taken elsewhere.

Their remarks came just a few weeks after the World Bank stated that it was not yet time for the standard gauge to disembark in Kenya considering the cost factor and benefits.

It added that there was need to ensure that there is consideration of needs and wants before the commissioning of the railway programme.

President Uhuru Kenyatta commissioned the railway deal late last year to a chorus of questions over the deal not least his deputy William Ruto who wanted the deal revoked.

Issues over the tendering process, costing and the financial capability of the country to fund the deal have left the railway programme, expected to be one of the Jubiliee government's flagship deals shrouded in controversy.

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