, NAIROBI, Kenya Oct 17 – The construction of Standard Gauge Railway under the Northern Corridor Integration Projects risks further delay after regional heads of states meeting in Nairobi called for a fresh valuation on whether a diesel or a electric traction is best suited for the project ahead of a joint visit to China.
A joint communiqué read by Kenya Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed said teams from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan will be travelling to China to sign the final set financing agreements of the mega infrastructural project.
“The summit noted progress made in the finalisation of bankable proposals for some sections and directed the Ministers of Finance, Infrastructure, Attorneys General, coordinated by Ministers of Foreign Affairs, to undertake a joint visit to Exim Bank in China to conclude financing agreements. The summit directed the ministers to provide details of the cost comparisons for diesel and electric traction,” she said.
The announcement may signal a shift in thinking among the member states to change the powering mechanisms from electricity to the much cheaper diesel operated trains.
This is after Mohamed noted the summit’s concerns over the delay for the completion of the power transmission infrastructure necessary for trade in power.
“The summit noted with concern the delay and shift in the timelines for completion of the power transmission infrastructure necessary for trade in power. The Heads of State directed the ministers to closely monitor the implementation of this project and ensure that no further delays are experienced.”
The summit has also directed Lands Ministers in respective members states to enact legislations to fast track land acquisition for the infrastructure corridor.
Mohamed stated; “the summit welcomed proposals from the ministers on the need to employ alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in land dispute settlement and acquisition.”
“The summit noted the urgency to amend existing laws to fast track land acquisition for the infrastructure corridor. In addition, ministers responsible for implementing infrastructure projects together with Ministers of Finance are to prioritise the use of funds allocated for implementing infrastructure projects including land acquisition,” she added.
The northern corridor projects are designed to enable development and operationalisation of a seamless railway network from Mombasa to Kigali and Juba.
The Nairobi summit was attended by Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, delegations from Burundi, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania.