NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 17 – President Uhuru Kenyatta today launched freight service on the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Nairobi to Naivasha.
The new service now extends SGR freight operations from Mombasa to the Naivasha Inland Container Depot (ICD), taking transit cargo deeper into the country’s hinterland.
The launch of the cargo operations comes less than two months after the President unveiled passenger services on the same route.
Speaking at the launch of the cargo operations, the President noted that demand for the passenger services on the Nairobi-Naivasha route has outstripped carrying capacity.
“To date, the Madaraka Express has moved more than 10,000 passengers (on the Nairobi-Naivasha route), with demand significantly outstripping our carrying capacity,” said the President.
He said the demand for SGR services along this section in particular, which is part of the greater Mombasa –Nairobi-Kisumu/Malaba Standard Gauge Railway Project, is a clear demonstration of the need for efficient transport across the entire East Africa region.
President Kenyatta noted that by developing the SGR, the Jubilee Administration has achieved what Kenya has been unable to achieve for over a century due to the inability to meet the enormous capital costs.
“From the beginning of my Administration, we prioritised addressing this historical under-investment in our Railway Network,” said the President.
He said the development of Kenya’s railway network is setting the foundation for a transport solution that would transform the course of development for Kenya and the East African Region.
The Head of State said that the commencement of the freight services to Naivasha and the completion of the Naivasha ICD is expected to boost the development of the Naivasha Industrial Park.
The Naivasha ICD will be served by two trains a day and already two shipping lines have committed to take their cargo directly from the Port of Mombasa to Naivasha.
The President said the SGR is impacting positively on the development and growth of the Kenyan economy adding that the new railway line has helped decongest Mombasa Port, reduced transit times for freight transportation and enhanced security of transit cargo.
He noted that the Nairobi ICD has facilitated handling of over 6.8 million tonnes of cargo between Mombasa and Nairobi since the inception of the new railway line.
On passenger service between Nairobi and Mombasa, the President said Mombasa is currently recording the highest rate of hotel bookings by local tourists in history thanks to the easy and safe transport provided by the SGR.
“The fast and efficient mass movement of persons and goods is a prerequisite to the achievement of economic growth and prosperity,” the President noted as he reassured Kenyans that every shilling invested in the development of the SGR is worthwhile.
“SGR is a vital component for the realization of the Kenya Vision 2030, the Big Four Agenda and our quest to spread the fruits of our Prosperity to every corner of our Republic,” the President said.
He said that his Administration has placed transport and logistics at the forefront of the country’s development agenda and Kenyans have seen the benefits of new roads and other infrastructural developments.
The President challenged local and foreign investors to take full advantage of the opportunities provided by the government’s investment in transport infrastructure and announced plans to start the restoration of the Metre Gauge Railway network from Maai Mahiu to Kisumu and Malaba.
He said ongoing transport network projects will help Kenya improve the country’s position in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index and position Kenya as a destination of choice for investors.
Mr Wang Yong, a special envoy sent by Chinese President Xi Jinping said Kenya and China are engaged in a mutually beneficial partnership aimed at benefitting the people of the two countries.
He said the implementation of the Sino-Kenya comprehensive strategic relationship is progressing well adding that the partnership has become an example for the Asian country’s relationship with the rest of Africa.
The envoy said President Jinping is keen on expanding China’s partnership with Kenya within the the Belt and Road Initiative framework and in support of the country’s Big Four development agenda.