Kenya has allowed a Chinese firm to conduct feasibility studies with a view to expand the Standard Gauge Railway(SGR) to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and the city Centre via Syokimau.
Kenya Railways managing director Atana Maina says the feasibility studies and preliminary designs to be carried out by China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) will help define the different issues which are relevant in determining whether or not the project is worthwhile.
The railway will serve people coming from the city going to JKIA and people leaving Syokimau train terminus into the city.
China’s freight wagon manufacturer giant CRRC Qiqihar, has been contracted to service wagons and locomotives while another Chinese firm — the China Communications Construction Company will operate the new rail for five years.
The initial design visualized Syokimau as an exchange station where passengers would take another train to Nairobi’s city centre or to the JKIA.
The plan is considered of great importance because the outcome would cut on the amount of time spent in traffic.
The original plan drafted in 2012 had indicated that the JKIA train would run to the CBD and would cover a 22km journey in only 25 minutes. This would save greatly on time on a journey that can last up to two hours during rush hour.
CRBC becomes the latest in a growing list of Chinese firms who have been involved in the Kenya’s SGR project a move likey to cast doubt over the transparency of the process.
There was no public bidding for the Mombasa -Nairobi SGR line, a condition set by the Chinese lenders to help fund its construction process. The line cost a total of KSh447.5b including financing costs.