, MOMBASA, Kenya, May 30 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has delivered the promise of launching the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) by the first of June 2017.
Speaking when he flagged off of the first Standard Gauge Railway cargo train at Port Reitz in the coastal city of Mombasa, President Kenyatta said the move shows how the country can achieve greater heights if Kenyans can work together with a common purpose.
“This indicates what we can achieve if we work together as a nation. The foundation we are laying today is not just for us; it’s for generations to come,” he said.
He said the historic moment is not just for the Jubilee administration but a proud moment for every Kenyan.
He called upon all citizens to stand together and remain united in order to make Kenya prosperous.
“We have invested about $600 million at this Mombasa Port in the last two and a half years. That shows that we mean business, we have continued to invest in making it easier for Kenyans to do business,” he added.
The new Chinese-built route is aimed at cementing Kenya’s position as the gateway to East Africa and is billed as the biggest infrastructure project since independence, and a key selling point for the ruling Jubilee party ahead of the August elections.
Tuesday’s launch precedes the unveiling of the maiden passenger from Mombasa to Nairobi on Wednesday morning.
On board will be President Kenyatta, Cabinet Secretaries and top government officials among others selected to take the maiden trip to the capital city- as well as 47 pupils from all the counties.
The project was built at a cost Sh327 billion with 90 percent financed by China Exim Bank with the Kenyan Government investing the rest.
Financing of the second phase of the SGR project from Nairobi to Naivasha has already been sourced from Chinese Government.
The cargo train is expected to carry about 216 containers at a go.
The new train is set to reduce the cost of moving goods in the country, making Kenya an economic power house in the region.
According to the Kenya Railways Corporation, freight charges for the containers will be at Sh50,000 per container compared to the current Sh80,000 by the metre gauge railway train and Sh90,000 by road.
Time taken from the Port of Mombasa to the inland container terminal in Nairobi will reduce to eight hours.
“This is a proud moment for the Jubilee administration. We have had many challenges that include the court cases and environmental issues. This showcases a unity of purpose from the Jubilee administration,” said Deputy President William Ruto.
Others present during the flagging off of the cargo train included First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala and Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed.