New railway creates new optimism for Kenya
Updated: 2016-05-29 08:16
By Hou Liqiang in Sultan Hamud, Kenya(chinadaily.com.cn)
President Uhuru Kenyatta, the middle, Chinese ambassador Liu Xianfa, the left, and CRBC President Lu Shan, pose for photos on the newly laidtrackin front of the track-laying machine. Photo by Hou Liqiang/China Daily
President Uhuru Kenyatta visited the construction site of the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) on Saturday. While speaking highly about the project's progress, he disclosed that Kenya's government planned to build industrial parks along the line to create job opportunities.
The President, accompanied by Chinese ambassador Liu Xianfa and high-level officials from China Road and Bridge Co, who is building the railway, had a site meeting at the project's Section 7 at Sultan Hamud, which is about 110 kilometers Southeast of Nairobi, during which he was briefed on project progress and its challenges.
The President said, "I am impressed by the work that has been done so far, and glad that whatever was put on paper during the inception is now coming to life."
"The SGR project is absolutely vital in my plans to support and grow Kenya's economy - creating more jobs and opportunities that will further open up our country for business to local and foreign investors for the betterment of the country and the region as a whole," said the president.
"This is an economic boost not just to the National Government but also the Seven Counties through which this line has traversed. I am sure you have seen the bustling centres along the line - this means more connectivity and growth for this Nation."
The President said the Government is in talks with investors to put up industrial parks along the SGR line to create jobs for Kenyans.
"We have discussed on how to set up industrial parks at DongoKundu in Mombasa, Voi, MtitoAndei, Nairobi and Naivasha which will help us create jobs for our young people," he said.
Significant progress has been made since the start of the SGR project in November 2014. About 97 percent of civil work, 95 percent of the bridge substructures and 98 percent of the culverts have been completed. Currently, 58.32 percent of track has been laid, 45.3 percent of T-beams have been erected. The entire Project is within the 65 percent completion mark.
The 472.2 kilometer Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway will cost up to $3.8 billion, and the Import-Export Bank of China is offering 90 percent of the funding. The ambitious project is expected to boost economic growth in Kenya by 1.5 percent.The project is scheduled to be finished in 2017.
Many residents along the SGR project have been expecting the new railway to bring big changes to their life.
Every day, Emmanuel MusyokafromSultan Hamud town spends some time watching the on-going construction of the SGR project, which is more than 50 meters away from his home.
His family of seven members now lives in two temporary houses built with tree branches and grass, each of which is only about five square meters.
"There will be a great change for us after the railway is completed," said the 10 year-old, with eyes attached to the track-laying machine on work, adding, "I want to become rich."
Like Musyoka, 47-year-old Patrick Muthoka, a Kamba farmer owning less than two acres of land in Sultan Hamud, has been paying attention to the railway all the time.
"Nowadays, my family (of six members) could only make no more than 20,000 Kenya Shillings from our land. That's too small," said Muthoka.
"They (CRBC) have done great. We have been expecting great changes," he added, "The railway will help us become rich and raise the economy."
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