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Govt: Construction of high-speed railway on course

24 October 2014, 08:08

Nairobi - The government confirmed on Thursday that construction of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) aimed at providing efficient and cost-effective rail transport for both freight and passengers, is on course.

Cabinet Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure Michael Kamau said all stakeholders have been involved in the process of land acquisition for the project.

Speaking when he presented a report on the status of the SGR project to President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi, Kamau said compensation for the land along 15 kilometers of the railway acquired for the construction of the project is being finalized.

A statement issued after the presentation said Kenyatta expressed the need to expedite construction of the high speed railway, saying it is one of the key infrastructural projects by the government that will transform the country.

"We are committed to delivering this project for the benefit of the people of Kenya and the East African region. We must hasten the pace of its implementation," he said, adding that the land issue must be resolved quickly to avoid delaying implementation of the project.

Also read: Coast MPs divided over new rail project

China has agreed to fund the first phase of a standard gauge railway line linking the East African nation's port city of Mombasa to Uganda, Burundi and South Sudan.

The Exim Bank of China will fund 90 percent of the 3.6 billion U.S. dollars for the first phase of the project, which will cover 485 kilometers from the port of Mombasa to Nairobi. The Kenyan government will provide the remainder of the funding, the Kenyan president office said in a news release.

Speaking during the event, China Communications Construction Company Vice President Chen Yun said he had toured the SGR project site and confirmed that work is going on as planned.

Chen assured Kenyatta that his company will fully observe the Kenyan law in ensuring that the environment and national parks, through which the railway line traverses, are preserved as work gets underway.

The SGR is intended to reduce the cost of doing business by reducing the cost of transport, a move that will see Kenya become a competitive business hub for the East African region and beyond.

Passenger trains will have a speed of 120 kilometers per hour while those for freight will be designed to move at 80 kilometers an hour. The contractor is China Road and Bridge Corporation. The SGR will take passengers four hours and 30 minutes to travel from Mombasa to Nairobi while freight will take eight hours.

 - Xinhua

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