, NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 11 – Kenya Ports Authority Chairman Danson Mungatana on Tuesday advised leaders to refrain from politicising the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project.
Mungatana said the debate was needless and will only slow the establishment of the rail network and slow the pace of economic growth in the country.
“For a very long time the discussion on the Standard Gauge Railway has been focusing on the political angle only. The politics of the Standard Gauge Rail have dominated and squeezed the voice of business people in that debate,” he argued.
The KPA chairman added that the railway will not only ease and hasten the transport of containers but will also ease the strain on roads.
“We shall save on the social and economic costs that we have paid as Kenyans by neglecting our railway and over focusing on our roads. We needlessly have lost many lives as a result of people dying from accidents that are caused by the trucks.”
“If we have the railway network we will not only save lives but the government will save so much money that would normally go into repairing the roads that have been destroyed by the trucks,” Mungatana explained.
President Uhuru Kenyatta last month urged anyone dissatisfied with the Standard Gauge Railway tender award to a Chinese firm to give evidence before parliamentary committees investigating the matter.
In an address from State House, the Head of State said the Standard Gauge Railway line project must proceed because it was awarded procedurally.
“Let me ask all those with information on any aspects they feel are questionable to go to Parliament and testify… give evidence. Or come to me; tell me where the problem is. We are open to resolving any conflicts in this matter,” he said.
President Kenyatta said for the country to achieve its development agenda, the process of implementing the project must be done in a transparent manner.
“Development and delivery of realistic programmes is the only way to go, and we shall. Let me make this perfectly clear – the interest of Kenya overrides any, and all other interests,” said the President.
Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter has charged that the tender was awarded before the government had done due diligence on the Chinese company.
Keter who appeared before Public Investments Committee said that China Roads and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) was even blacklisted by the World Bank in 2009 and the ban is due for review in January 2017.
President Kenyatta said the railway project is a vital part of the Government’s efforts to fully exploit the natural resources available in this region.
He said the project will reduce costs of doing business and make the East and Central Africa region far more competitive for investment.