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Uhuru to launch new rail project amid controversy

28 November 2013, 09:30

Nairobi - President Uhuru Kenyatta and two counterparts from the region are this morning scheduled to attend the official ceremony marking the laying of the East African standard gauge railway in Nairobi.

Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Paul Kagame of Rwanda would also attend the event amid court challenges.

The rail project is arguably the largest local infrastructure scheme in many years.

Upon completion, the railway will strengthen the Kenya’s position as a regional business and communications hub.

It is expected that the railway would reduce the cost of transporting cargo by up to 60 percent, resulting in lower consumer prices.

This would in turn boost consumption and spur economic growth.

The rail project will take three years to complete, and by 2016, it will take just four hours to move from Mombasa to Nairobi, at a cost of Sh 800.

Cargo trains would move at 80 kilometers per hour, reducing the journey from 36 hours to eight hours.

However, controversy has marred preparations for the ceremony to mark the launch of the exercise.

The High Court is this morning expected to make its ruling on the project following a petition filed by dock workers and Coastal Members of Parliament.

They are challenging the manner in which the construction tender was awarded to a Chinese firm.

“This is a big scam may be even bigger than the Anglo-leasing or Goldenburg,” stated the infuriated legislatures.  

Businesspeople nonetheless were excited ahead of the laying of the railway.

“I cannot wait for this to materialize, we have suffered for long hours on the way to and from Nairobi. Sometimes we spend up to three days on the way, with unnecessary delays and stoppages, This cost us business,” Fatima Mwamdazi, an informal entrepreneur, said.

– CAJ News


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