This Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) which is to be built as per Chinese railway design standards (first phase, Mombasa Port to Nairobi - 609 km ) is estimated to cost Ksh 327 billion and expected to be completed in 2017. The project is being financed by China Exim Bank, constructed by China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) and Construction Supervision by TSDI-APEC-EDON Consortium.
The Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project journey started way back in 2008, when Cabinet approved the project as a Government-Government Financed Project. A year later, on 12th August, 2009 the then Ministry of Transport and China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), a state-owned Chinese company signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the latter to undertake feasibility study and preliminary designs on phase 1 of the SGR conceived as a flagship project under the Kenya Vision 2030 development agenda. The Government of Kenya will develop Mombasa–Malaba/Kisumu section in two phases: Phase 1 – Mombasa to Nairobi Phase 2 – Nairobi to Malaba and Kisumu.
On 1st October, 2009, the governments of Kenya and Uganda signed a MoU for construction of the SGR from Mombasa to Kampala. The SGR took a regional dimension after the signing of this MoU with Uganda.
The Government of Kenya decided to build the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) Line from Mombasa-Malaba/Kisumu as part of the Regional SGR development which extends to Kampala, Kigali and Juba as pronounced by the Heads of State for the Republic of Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya on 28th August 2013.
As a result, a Tripartite Agreement and a Protocol on Development and operation of the Standard Gauge Railway have been signed by the four Partner States. The Protocol was signed by Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan and Rwanda in May 2014. This will enable development and operational function of a Seamless Railway Network from Mombasa to Kigali and Juba with the objective of reducing the cost of doing business in the region thereby making it competitive for investment. It is envisioned that ratification of this Protocol will enable the Partner States to:
- Ensure there is harmonisation of the policy, legal and institutional framework for SGR;
- Adopt common SGR standards and;
- Develop and adopt mechanisms to ensure seamless operations to guarantee reduced cost of transportation in the region
Salient Features of the proposed Standard Gauge Railway which is being developed for both freight and passenger traffic include:
- The Railway will be developed for freight and passenger traffic.
- The railway will complement the existing railway and roads, which will continue providing vital transport services for freight destinations and the “last mile” links within and around the region.
- Each freight train will have a capacity of 216 TEUs and will travel at an average speed of 80 kilometres per hour.
- Freight trains will be operated on the basis of speed, safety and cost effectiveness.
- The passenger services will be operated with maximum safety and comfort for passengers at the stations and inside the trains.
- Each passenger train will have a capacity of 960 passengers and will travel at a average speed of 120 kilometres per hour.
- Construction of state-of-the-art stations.
- The railway has been designed for environmental compatibility particularly within the National Parks where fencing will be provided along with under passages for wild animals
Immediate Economic Benefits of Standard Gauge Railway development:
- Reduced cost of transportation in the region making it an attractive investment destination.
- Protect the environment through reduced carbon emission.
- Accelerate industrialisation through easier and cheaper transport and the establishment of new industries to service the new railway.
- Contribute to an annual GDP growth of at least 1.5% during construction and subsequent operation.
- Enhance the region’s competitiveness.
- Reduce congestion at Mombasa Port securing the port as the preferred facility in the region.
- Reduce wear and tear on roads; hence reduce maintenance cost.
- Enhanced freight security.
Social Benefits during the construction and operation of the railway:
- Direct jobs: At least 60 new jobs per kilometre of track during construction period.
- Local Industries: Large quantities of local inputs such as steel, cement, aggregates, electricity generation and electricity transmission pylons and cables, roofing materials, glass, etc. required from local industries with potential to create at least 10,000 jobs.
- Service and hospitality industry: Estimated 3,000 jobs to provide foods, accommodation and leisure.
- Skills development: Estimated 15,000 people to acquire skills suitable for self employment after the construction period (masons, carpenters, mechanics, electricians, etc.)
- Technology transfer: Estimated 400 engineers and high technology technicians will be trained during construction and will be available for local and regional railway development.
- Accidents reduction: The railway will reduce the number of heavy trucks on the road thus reducing accident incidents making the roads safer for human traffic