, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 8 – President Uhuru Kenyatta did not mince his words on Monday when he once again defended the construction cost of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).
He defended the project cost against a critical article run by The Economist in which it was referred to as a “dud,” and “third-rate railway for the cost of a very expensive one.”
“I remember a similar situation with the Asian tigers,” he said. “Where they were being challenged and told that by the same World Bank that they were investing in unnecessary infrastructure. ‘Oh this is just expensive, oh, this is not required.’ I just want to pose a question to those who challenge us when we are investing in infrastructure, ‘Where are those tigers today?'”
He said his administration was therefore unshaken in its resolve to see the SGR through to the end of the line arguing that it would transform Kenya’s economic fortunes.
“We are no longer going to be the dumping ground for products while our people have no jobs, while our people suffer in poverty. We are going to move to the next level irregardless (sic) of what The Economist says, irregardless of what anybody says,” he said.
He also sought to reiterate the point that his administration wasn’t threatened by the developmental strides being made in neighbouring countries saying all the “corridors” under development would in the end serve the greater good by fostering regional integration.
“And that’s why I keep saying when people say ‘oh Tanzania is doing that, Ethiopia is doing this, Djibouti is doing that’ what is the problem? All these corridors will be interlinked.”
Only a few months back, Uganda decided it would partner with Tanzania and not Kenya in the construction of an oil pipeline and Kenya, a few weeks later, announced that it would partner with Ethiopia instead.
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia expressed sentiments similar to those of his appointing authority at the State House Transport and Infrastructure Summit held on Monday.
“Let me educate them (The Economist). The SGR from Mombasa to Nairobi is first of its class. In terms of GDP it’ll contribute two per cent. Clearly this is an investment which will pay for itself very, very quickly. It will save in terms of maintenance of our roads and it will help the Mombasa Port to become much more efficient because of the uptake of cargo.”
It is not the first time the cost of the SGR, Sh327 billion from Mombasa to Nairobi, has raised eyebrows with Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter having been a vocal critic.