A groundbreaking ceremony was recently held to mark the start of the construction of the Nairobi Railway City in Kenya. This comes approximately 6 months after the development’s final design plan was unveiled by the UK and Kenyan government members at the Serena Hotel.
Speaking at the ceremony, the then Transport Principal Secretary Joseph Njoroge revealed that the project implementation would begin in two months’ time and that the government was committed to ensuring its smooth execution.
However, the government according to Chief Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi delayed in finalizing key documents consequently delaying the implementation of the project until recently when the sitting president of Kenya engaged with UK officials to strike Public Private Partnership (PPP).
As a result of the engagement, the United Kingdom committed £80 million to the Nairobi Railway City project.
Scope of the Nairobi Railway Project
The Nairobi Railway project, which would cost Sh27.9 billion, was developed by the UK firm Atkins Global. It was unveiled by the UK Prime Minister’s G7 and G20, Sherpa Jonathan Black.
During the ceremony, the government also disclosed that it is negotiating for up to Sh220 billion in UK Export Finance for Kenyan projects, with the new central station likely to be the first to benefit. UK Deputy High Commissioner Julius Court, Nairobi Metropolitan Services Director General Mohammed Badi, National Treasury Director for Public Investment Management Stanley Kamau, and Kenya Railways Managing Director Philip Mainga also attended the ceremony.
The proposed station is part of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s larger Nairobi Railway City revitalization proposal, which the UK government backs. It aims to reconstruct 425 acres of central Nairobi in order to relieve congestion and boost economic growth. The Nairobi Railway City, according to the Court, is a flagship project in the UK-Kenya Strategic Partnership, which was agreed upon by President Kenyatta and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson during the Africa Investment Summit in 2020.
According to Chris Crombie, Design Director for Atkins, the Nairobi Railway City is a very important showpiece project in the heart of the city and the entrance to East Africa. Crombie stated that the railway city project would help the Kenyan government generate jobs as well as green and sustainable infrastructure that promotes rehabilitation. The Nairobi Railway City is anticipated to be a world-class, climate-resilient project that will provide transportation capacity to support future expansion and establish the groundwork for a Green City of the Future.
President Uhuru and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson originally agreed on the arrangement two years ago in London. At Sh17.6 billion, railway infrastructure will take the lion’s share. The first phase contains the Central Railway Station as well as a business complex with two 5,000-square-metre buildings.
In October 2019 the Government of Kenya has announced plans for the construction of a US $270m mega city. Draft plans for the “Railway City” that will see the expansion of Nairobi’s Central Business District (CBD) have already been released thus paving way for project implementation.
The Nairobi Railway city masterplan
Dubbed the Railway City Masterplan, the 425-acre project is expected to be completed in the next 20 years in three phases. Aside from the main station area, it will also contain a residential area and business hubs.
Railway infrastructure will gobble a huge chunk of the project at US $169m followed by water supply and construction of roads and pavements that will take US $38m and US $19m respectively. The draft plans describe it as a “multi-modal” hub in the CBD that will guarantee “seamless connection” among commuter rail, three Bus Rapid Transits, airport limousine city bus and non-motorised transport such as bicycles.
“The Nairobi Railway City will include multi-modal transit stations, mixed-use or commercial buildings, international offices, small and medium enterprise cluster and high tech industry buildings,” said Transport Principal Secretary Charles Hinga.
Other facilities will include residential buildings, community and government buildings, open space and plazas, and powerful non-motorized and pedestrian walkways. “Such a diverse urban programme will generate a 24-hour dynamic city,” added the PS. The project expects to ease congestion on Uhuru Highway, Haile Selassie Avenue and Landhies Road.
Kenyans will be expected to give their views on the project in the next sixty days before the plans are finalised.
Kenya Railways mega city in the offing
Plans are on top gear for a multi-billion-shilling railway city in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, Africa’s fourth largest city and the business, financial, transport and logistics hub of the East and Central African region. Kenya Railways, a state corporation, is seeking investors to develop the city as it seeks to harness its 63-hectare land in the central business district.
Sources close to the Corporation have revealed that successful bidders will lease the land on a renewable 60-year term and they will be required to commence development within a year of grant of lease. The investors are required to complete the project over a maximum of six years from grant of the lease.
The proposed city development, located between Haile Sellasie Avenue, Uhuru Highway and Bunyara road, has attracted worldwide interest,with American real estate tycoon Donald Trump being among 43 other interested parties including TPS Serena, Commercial Bank of Africa, Spencon International and Associated Motors.
The project will see the construction of a 5-star hotel, a modern 4-star hotel with state of the art conference facilities, exclusive cottages, an international quality 9-hole golf course and a huge shopping mall with sufficient parking lots.
The project will comprise a 100 room 5-star hotel, a 600 room 4-star business hotel, top of the range exclusive cottages, a nine hole golf course, a golf club house with a modern gym and associated facilities, conference facilities, exhibition rooms, Africa’s first IMAX theatre and adequate parking facilities.
Kenya Railways joins a growing list of major corporate giants; NSSF, NHC, Centum Investment, Britam and CIC insurance, who are venturing into the thriving real estate market.
Kenya Railways is mandated to provide skills and technology for the railway sector, provide efficient and effective railway services, leverage on its assets to grow business and promote, facilitation and participation in national and metropolitan railway network development.
July 2020 Kenya Invites bids for the construction of the planned Nairobi Railway City
The government of Kenya through the ministry of Housing and Urban Development invites bids for the construction of the proposed Nairobi Railway City, which is intended to expand the Central Business District.
This tender notice comes approximately two months after the annunciation of the formation of the Railway City Development Authority (RCDA), a special purpose vehicle for the project, and an implementation committee which would spearhead the operation of the Authority, develop a framework for the actualizing of the railway city, and identify anchor projects and investors.
All bids from interested and eligible candidates must be received on or before the 20th of August this year, according to the ministry.
Implementation of the project
The iconic multi-modal, transit-oriented, urban development project consisting of a new railway station that allows for the integration of BRT and other public transport modes as well as other commercial developments including skyscrapers, residential flats, a cultural center, and a museum, is part of the Nairobi Integrated Urban Development Plan.
It will be implemented in three phases within a span of 20 years on a 425-acre piece of land stretching from Haile Selassie Avenue, Uhuru Highway, Bunyala Road, Commercial Street, and Landhies Road.
The first phase entails the construction of meeting, incentive conferences, and exhibitions facilities along Bunyala Road. This phase will be executed between this year and 2023.
The second phase will be the construction of an economic zone comprising of hi-tech industries and small and medium enterprises while the third and the final phase, the East core, will be the construction of a residential complex featuring a school, park, and affordable housing units.
Upon completion, the economic free zone is expected to create more than 200,000 employment opportunities while the residential complex is expected to accommodate approximately 28,000 residents.
This project will be the largest and most ambitious development ever to be undertaken in the metropolitan region since independence and is expected to attract local and international private capital.
UK Firm Selected To Design Rail Transit System
Atkins, a British multinational engineering, design, planning, architectural design, project management, and consulting services company, and a subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin, has been appointed to design the Rail Transit System (RTS) for the proposed Nairobi Railway City.
This was revealed in a statement released by the British High Commission in Nairobi. According to the statement, the London-based company will particularly design Nairobi’s new Central Train Station that allows for the integration of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and other public transport modes, and associated public grounds.
The RTS contract is the first major local deal for Atkins, which acquired Kenyan engineering firm, Howard Humphreys East Africa, back in March 2016 as part of its strategy to make Kenya’s capital home to its regional office for Africa.
Breathe of a new life into the Nairobi Railway City project
The appointment of the UK firm to design the Rail Transit System comes as a breath of a new life into the Nairobi Railway City project, which was initiated by President Uhuru Kenyatta in a bid to redevelop the Nairobi central business district.
Upon completion, the Nairobi Railway City shall have multi-modal transit stations, mixed-use or commercial buildings, international offices, small and medium enterprise clusters,s and high-tech industry buildings according to Transport Principal Secretary, Charles Hinga.
Other facilities planned for the city include residential buildings, community and government buildings, open space and plazas, and powerful non-motorized and pedestrian walkways.
The proposed development site
The Nairobi Railway City will be developed on a site that sits on the Nairobi Central Railway Station, the marshaling yard, and the Kenya Railways Pension Scheme Land, (commonly known as Landimawe).
The site stretches further to the locomotive and wagons workshops, and the section of Nairobi’s Industrial Area that edges the southern boundary of the Nairobi Railway Station.