, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 18 – The Rift Valley Railways (RVR) has commissioned three locomotives marking the first time Kenya has received new trains since 1987.
The commissioning comes after RVR announced that it had secured a Sh1.8 billion asset financing deal with Standard Bank of South Africa and CfC Stanbic Bank towards the acquisition of 20 locomotives from the United States of America.
Transport Cabinet Secretary Eng Michael Kamau said the purchase of the fleet is an encouraging sign of bright days ahead in the railway sector which will positively impact many other sectors of the economy.
“We are encouraged to see noteworthy recent improvements in operational performance, particularly in cargo transit time and the speed of evacuating cargo from the port,” Kamau noted.
The remaining locomotives to be purchased at a cost of Sh2.3 billion will be delivered over the next five months.
Kamau reiterated the government’s commitment to supporting RVR’s investment and growth goals and to provide an environment that will allow railway operations to thrive.
“These new locomotives, combined with the impact of our program to recondition existing locos and refurbish rolling stock, will have a transformative impact on the concession’s performance, doubling haulage capacity this fiscal year,” Karim Sadek, Managing Director of RVR’s majority shareholder Qalaa Holdings said.
Sadek said that Qalaa as a long term African Investment holding company shared the vision of both governments of building RVR into a robust and efficient transport and logistics provider that can boost regional growth and trade.
The arrival of the locomotives is the latest in a series of projects RVR has recently launched aimed at improving railway operations. In July, RVR commissioned two high capacity railway track maintenance machines that automate and hasten track restoration.
When added to locomotives being rehabilitated in the rail operator’s Nairobi workshop the trains will double RVR’s mainline locomotive fleet, substantially increasing its freight haulage capacity in Kenya and Uganda.