Rail blueprint boosts growth in East Africa
Only a stone's throw from the old line, work is in full swing on a new railway line, using Chinesestandards and technology. That will shorten the Nairobi-Mombasa trip to four and a half hoursand will bring Kenya into the 21st century.Construction of the 472-kilometer standard-gauge railway, financed by Exim Bank of China,began in October and is expected to open in 2017. The estimated cost is $3.8 billion.
The Chinese infrastructure, engineering and construction company China Road and Bridge Corpis employing about 1,900 Chinese and more than 10,000 Kenyan engineers and skilled workerson the project. The company said it will eventually employ 2,500 Chinese engineers and 30,000local workers.
The Kenyan government estimated that construction of the standard-gauge railway will help thecountry generate 1.5 percent of its GDP and eventually enable Kenya to become a gateway ofEast Africa after the Mombasa-Nairobi section joins other sections being built or to be built in theregion.
Chen Yun, head of the project and vice-president of China Communications Construction Co Ltd,the holding company of CRBC, said: "The opening of the railway, like the wings of a bird, willprepare East Africa and even the whole of Africa for economic takeoff."Once the line is open it will greatly change people's work and lives generally," Chen added.
The new Mombasa-Nairobi line will play a leading role in the East Africa railway network, whichwill link Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda, and its value will become clearer when theEast Africa railway network is completed and forms a large logistics circle in the region. A more immediate effect will be a cut in transport costs. Shipping a 6-meter container about 13,000 km from China to Mombasa costs about $1,700.Shipping it the extra 500 km or so to Nairobi can add about $1,000 to that.
The single-gauge railway is expected to reduce rail transport costs from $20 cents to 8 cents permetric ton per kilometer. It will also relieve the pressure on traffic on the highway, notable for thediscarded oil containers due to accidents, and reduce the damage from the trucks to the road.