MTITO ANDEI, Kenya, Jan 23 – The modern high speed rail system under construction will raise Kenya’s GDP by 1.5 percent once it becomes operational, President Uhuru Kenyatta has said.
The President said the economic benefits of the high speed trains will be massive and the immediate effects will include decongestion of the port of Mombasa that will lead to higher volumes of national and regional trade.
President Kenyatta said the tens of thousands of jobs that will be created by the construction projects and the many more that will be created once the modern rail system becomes operational will bring prosperity for millions of Kenyans.
The President, who spoke when he addressed a public rally at the Kenya Wildlife Service Camp grounds at Mtito Andei, said the system will revolutionalize transportation in Kenya and the whole region.
He said he attaches a lot of importance to the project and will push for it to be completed within three years as planned.
“When the construction project ends and the trains start operating, it will lead to a big reduction in goods and change this country,” he said.
He said the increase in GDP will lead to more economic growth for the country which will translate to increased opportunities for Kenyans.
“This single project alone will raise our GDP by 1.5 percent and that can enable us achieve growth rates of even 8 percent because we are now growing at 5.8 percent,” said the President.
The Head of State said within the next few years Kenya will be in a position to export railway building experts to regional countries.
During the construction of the Mombasa-Nairobi route, an estimated 400 engineers and technicians will be trained and this skilled workforce will be available for future local and regional railway development.
At least 30,000 direct jobs for locals will be created during the construction with another 7,963 already working at the project’s headquarters.
At the same time, at least 15,000 locals will acquire skills suitable for self employment.
The President asked Makueni residents to be proud of the fact that China Roads and Bridges, which is constructing the SGR, has established its headquarters at Mtito Andei.
“The company building the Standard Gauge Railway has also built here two factories to produce rail sleepers and other parts to build the railway. That means that even when the Mombasa-Nairobi section is over there will still be jobs here,” said the President.
The Head of State also assured locals that the Government will allocate more money to construct dams in Makeuni County to fight poverty.
“We have to move away from dependence on food relief and we will dedicate more funds to support irrigation,” said the President.
President Kenyatta also urged leaders to stop personal fights instead of working for Kenyans.
“Leaders should know that every time they fight it is the public that suffers,” he said.
The President addressed the rally after he inspected a trial section of the SGR at Mtito Andei.
He was taken on a tour of the section by Transport Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau, the PS Nduva Muli and managers of China Roads and Bridges.
He was also accompanied by Cabinet Secretaries Joseph Nkaissery (Internal Security), Davis Chirchir (Energy), Charity Ngilu (Lands and Housing), Judy Wakhungu (Environment) and Adan Mohamed (Industrialisation and Enterprise Development).
The President was also accompanied by the Ambassador of China to Kenya Liu Xianfa.
The public rally was addressed by Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr, the Governor of Makueni Kivutha Kibwana (who is fighting impeachment by the County Assembly), and local MPs.