The 120 km Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) linking Kenya’s capital Nairobi to the resort town of Naivasha will convert the country into a trading, industrial and logistics hub, experts said on Monday.
Michael Mugwang’a, a Nairobi-based communications consultant said that phase 2A of the SGR project that was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Oct. 16, will position Kenya as an unrivalled regional trading hub.
“Its importance lies in the fact that it will encourage trade with Kenyan neighbours,” Mugwang’a said in a commentary published by the Business Daily newspaper.
He said the modern railway line that was implemented by China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), was part of the proposed Mombasa-Nairobi-Malaba SGR project.
The railway will facilitate seamless movement of bulk cargo and passengers to the Kenyan hinterland and across the borders.
Mugwang’a said that an Inland Container Deport (ICD) and dry port that is an integral component of Nairobi-Naivasha SGR infrastructure will boost intra Africa trade and help realise Kenya’s industrial transformation.
The expert said that Kenya’s hinterland was slated for rapid economic growth thanks to availability of faster, safer and affordable means of transporting cargo, passengers and tourists.
Kenyatta said during the launch of inaugural SGR phase 2A train service that it would boost connectivity, stimulate commerce in the countryside and create additional jobs for the youth.
During the launch, Kenyatta slammed critics, who questioned the viability of the project, saying the government was determined to ensure it was aligned to realisation of the country’s long-term development agenda.
“I’m proud to launch the Nairobi-Naivasha SGR project which is expected to move the country forward by reducing the cost of transporting industrial goods from the port of Mombasa to neighbouring countries,” said Kenyatta.
Nthenya Munyao, a Communications Advisor for Mombasa-Nairobi SGR Passenger Service called Madaraka Express, also said the recently launched phase 2A of the SGR would be a game-changer in cross border transport and commerce.
“The region is also set to become a competitive investment destination as the SGR will lead to higher speeds, reducing transit times between destinations, and consequently lower cost of production,” Munyao said.
She said the extended railway line would boost access to regional markets for Kenyan manufactured goods, enhance integration, ease congestion on the roads and reduce carbon emissions.