Kenya Railways poised to take over SGR operations from Chinese firm

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Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) has begun the process of taking over the operations of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from the Chinese operator Afristar. According to Kenya Railways Chairman Omudho Awitta, the corporation has already assumed ticketing, security and fuelling functions of the Standard Gauge Railways (SGR)

“We have negotiated with the contractor so that we take over the running of the standard gauge railway. The first phase has started, we have taken over the security, ticketing and fueling of the trains. These phases will go on smoothly up to May 2022 when we take overall operations,” said Awitta. He further added that instead of the 10 years, they are taking over in five years. “We are prepared for it and we are ready to go,” said the chairman.

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Kenya SGR operations

Since its launch in 2017, the SGR has been operated by a Chinese company, Afristar, a subsidiary of the firm that built the Mombasa – Nairobi railway line. Afristar was given a contract for ten years but the Kenya Railways said this was subject to review after five years. The company will be exiting the market following an agreement to cede operations to Kenya Railways.

The handover be complete by May 2022 is expected to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the Madaraka Express service.

The single-track standard gauge railway between Mombasa and Nairobi has a route length of around 480km and a total length of 609km. It runs through the counties of Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale, Taita-Taveta, Makueni, Kajiado, Machakos and Nairobi. The rail is designed to carry 22 million tonnes a year of cargo or a projected 40% of Mombasa Port throughput by 2035.