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Kenya Railways reinvents its wheel

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 9 – The Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) has embarked on a re-branding exercise as it seeks to rid itself of its troubled past.

The change comes as the state parastatal seeks to position itself to attract investors for partnerships in modernising the country’s dilapidated railway network.

Established in 1926 as the East Africa Harbor Administration, the company has undergone three pervious changes culminating in the latest brand, which it believes marks the start of a new beginning for the firm.

“The re-branding marks the turnaround Kenya Railways has made in the last four years from an unprofitable organisation to one that is self sustaining and able to face the future with confidence,” KRC Managing Director Nduva Muli said on Thursday.

KRC has set out an ambitious growth strategy that seeks to put the company back in profitable ways. Through its concession agreement with Rift Valley Railways, KRC expects to invest Sh40 million in the current railway expansion programme.

“In terms of management of the concession, we are partners with the concessioner to ensure they meet desired exceptions in operating the current railway system. In the next three years we expect them to show capacity of investing Sh54 million on the Kenya rail system,” Mr Muli said.

Top on the cards for KRC will be to complete the Nairobi commuter transport system by the end of 2012. The project will cost the company an estimated Sh1.6 billion as it looks to improve the transport in and around the city.

The MD said the first phase of the project would kick off in January 2011, which will see a new rail system put between the city and its environs as well as new train stations to ease travel.

“We are already working on the construction of the line to the airport. We will be talking of Nairobi to Limuru, Thika, Athi River as well as missing links in and around Nairobi,” he said.

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KRC is working closely with the government in engaging other governments within the region on the need to develop a joint railway system with the region.

KRC is also mulling the construction of a railway line from Lamu to Douala Cameroon with Mr Muli saying, “It is time we developed a land bridge that will ease trade between West and East Africa and make Kenya the transport and logistics hub for Africa.”

KRC is working on a master plan to develop three new corridors to Juba, Ethiopia and Bujumbura.

KRC is working on laying a standard gauge railway at the cost of $5 billion (Sh402.5 billion).

Mr Muli said KRC forecasts an operating profit of Sh900 million for 2010.

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