NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 28 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has told 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 last week told the Public Investments Committee 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.
In particular, President Kenyatta said, the Standard Gauge Railway will reduce freight transport tariff charges from their present average of US$0.20 per tonne-kilometre to about US$0.083 per tonne-kilometre.
It will also reduce transit time by freight trains from 30 hours on average to eight hours.
Apart from increasing rail transport share in the Northern Corridor and thereby reduce damage to the road network, the project is core to the attainment of Vision 2030.
“I, for one, believe that the delivery of that Vision 2030 can be brought forward a full decade, if we implement our infrastructure development agenda within the tight time-frames we have set for ourselves,” President Kenyatta further noted.
He said Exim Bank of China will provide a commercial loan of US$ 1.6 billion and a concessional loan of US$ 1.63 billion which makes a total of US$3.23 billion dollars for the development of phase one of the project which covers 609 kilometres from Mombasa to Nairobi.