SGR Kenya is proposed to connect Mombasa to Malaba on the border with Uganda and continue onward to Kampala, Uganda’s capital city. It will further run to Kigali in Rwanda with a branch line to Juba in South Sudan. Branch lines along the route will extend to Kisumu, Kasese and Pakwach.
It was conceived as a flagship project under the Kenya Vision 2030 development agenda. It will simplify transport operations across the borders and reduce travel costs, in addition to benefiting the economies of Kenya and the neighbouring countries.
The governments of Kenya and Uganda signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in October to construct a Standard Gauge Railway line from Mombasa to Kampala.
A tripartite agreement was signed by the governments of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda in August to fast track the development of the railway to their respective capital cities.
Main construction works on Phase 1 (Mombasa-Nairobi SGR line) began in December with China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) being the primary contractor. This particular phase cost US $3.8bn. China Exim Bank contributed around 90% of the financing while the remaining 10% was provided by the Kenyan Government.
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 Class 1 line runs parallel to the existing meter gauge railway and the Mombasa-Nairobi Road or A109 Highway for the most part. It deviates at certain points to attain the desired gradient and curvature. The construction of the line involved long viaducts, deep cuttings and high embankments to ensure safe operations across the steep incline and ragged terrain of the Miritini to Mazeras section.
With 120km of the line traversing through Kenya’s Tsavo National Park, 14 wildlife channels were also built. Terminal passenger stations are located at Mombasa and Nairobi, while intermediate stations are located at Mariakani, Voi, Mtito Andei, Sultan Hamud, Athi River, Emali, Miasenyi and Kibwezi.
The railway line is designed to carry 22 million tonnes a year of cargo or a projected 40% of Mombasa Port throughput by 2035. The freight terminals will be located at the Mombasa port and the Inland Container Depots at Embakasi in Nairobi.
Construction of Phase 2A (Nairobi-Naivasha SGR line) kicked-off in October. The 120km modern railway line whose construction contract was awarded to China Communications Construction Company (CCC) would cost US $1.5bn.
Phase 1 (Mombasa-Nairobi SGR line) was opened.
Phase 2A (Nairobi-Naivasha SGR line) was opened.
Exim Bank of China announced it would finance Phase 2B (Naivasha-Kisumu SGR line). The 262km line will pass through Suswa, Narok, Bomet, Nyamira to end at Kisumu. The design of the project includes upgrading the port of Kisumu. This section of the SGR is budgeted at US $3.7bn.
In August, demand for the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) freight services from Naivasha and Nairobi to Mombasa increased, according to figures from the operators. Africa Star Railway Operation Company Limited (Afristar) and Kenya Railway Corporation (KRC) said that the demand is fuelled by increased efficiency and reduced freight rate. In July 168 trains, railed 1, 715 Twenty Equivalent Units TEUs from the two ICDs to the port of Mombasa, according to data from the KRC and Afristar.
In mid-December, Four Nairobi businessmen failed to stop the ongoing development of an inland container depot for the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) in Syokimau Embakasi. John Mugo Njeru, Byron Kanyu, John Muswanyi and Victor Muiru wanted the court to issue an injuction on grounds that they are the registered owners of the 15-acre land where the dry port is being developed to be used by the new SGR at Syokimau.
They said the land was part of a 37-acre land which was allocated to them in July 1998. They processed title for the land and registered it in their names on February 4, 2005. In their application, the businessmen contended that the company has started erecting structures on the land and that unless an injunction is issued in their favour, they will suffer loss which may not be compensatable in damages.
But Justice Erick Obaga dismissed their application upon finding that the developing company was already in possession based on a lease from the Kenya Railways Corporation. He said evidence tabled in court revealed that the land had been surveyed in 1969 and in 1971, and was the subject of compulsory acquisition by government.
In early March, Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) announced that it 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.
In mid-June, the Okoa Mombasa lobby alongside The Institute for Social accountability (TISA) have filed a petition with the High Court in Mombasa, demanding for the disclosure of SGR contracts. The petition further seeks to obtain all agreements and studies related to the construction and operation of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).
The petitioners argue the Constitution prohibits confidential contracts for public infrastructure projects as they further lament the lack of public participation in the project’s financing. The petition comes amid the project’s perceived negative impact on the Coast region’s economy.