Kenya to extend SGR line to Uganda’s border

Standard gauge railway (SGR) cargo train makes its way to the Mombasa Port from Nairobi on December 14, 2021. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NMG

What you need to know:

  • The railway project hit a snag nine years ago due to various hiccups.
  • The Turkish company is expected to construct 273-kilometre of the SGR from Malaba to Kampala at a cost of $2.2b.

The government of Kenya has finally accepted to extend the standard gauge railway (SGR) from Naivasha to Malaba border. Uganda has welcomed the news, saying the development will  connect Mombasa and Kampala cities. 
According a report by the Business Daily , our sister publication, Kenya has set sight on a KShs2.1 trillion (Ushs56t) plan to extend the SGR to Kisumu, Malaba and Isiolo by the end of June 2027.
The spokesperson of the Ministry of Works and Transport, Ms Susan Kataike, yesterday welcomed  the developments in Kenya  since Uganda has been urging its neighbour to extend the railway to the border as per the connectivity agreements in 2014. 

READ: Locals develop demarcated SGR land over delayed pay
“They [Kenya] have gone to our original plan. It had earlier been agreed that the SGR be extended to our border and then we would also construct it to our neighbours, but the plans was delayed due to internal issues of our neighbour. Now it seems they have sorted them out,”  Ms Kataike said.

The  project was mooted in 2014 by the regional leaders from Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan and Rwanda. But when the railway line reached Naivasha, the Kenyan authorities pulled the plug. The Chinese funders also declined to fund the SGR project on the Ugandan side.
The Kenyan authorities had declined to get more funding from the Chinese financial institution for the project over budget and political issues. 
Railway is the cheapest means of transport and it reduces pressure on the road system, which is often affected by weather and social challenges.
According to  Daily Business, the SGR will be extended from Naivasha through Kisumu to Malaba. 

Ms Kataike said since Uganda will  start the construction of the SGR in August this year, the construction of the Kenya side would boost the connectivity. 
The Uganda government got  funding from a commercial bank and later contracted a Turkish company to construct the railway line.
Construction plans
The Turkish company is expected to construct 273-kilometre of the SGR from Malaba to Kampala at a cost of $2.2b.

Currently, the government is compensating people and also relocating them from the areas where the railway line  will pass. 
Last month, the State Minister of Transport, Mr Fred Byamukama, said the final stages of signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Yapi Merkezi,  the Turkish based firm, are in high gear.
“[The] Government has concluded the process of signing Memorandum of Understanding with the Turkish firm Yapi Merkezi and the firm has already made submissions of its response that is guiding government’s request for a construction proposal paving way for procurement to enable commencement of the construction works to be commissioned in next financial year,” Mr Byamukama said.