Rift Valley Railways commissions GE locomotives
18 Sep 2014
KENYA: Rift Valley Railways held a ceremony on September 18 to mark the commissioning of the first three of 20 second-hand GE B23-7 locomotives which have been acquired from the USA at a cost of US$25m and converted from standard to metre gauge.
The Kenya – Uganda railway concessionaire said they are the first locomotives delivered to Kenya or Uganda since 1987. The remaining 17 are scheduled to arrive over the next five months.
An US$20m asset financing deal with Standard Bank of South Africa and CFC Stanbic Bank has covered 80% of the cost of the locomotives
The railway design and construction will accommodate future electrification and double stacking of container the underpasses and viaducts are provided at short intervals across the 140 kilometres of the line within Tsavo National Park as required by the National Environmental Management Authority (Kenya).
The Chinese company building the new Nairobi-Mombasa railway has been restricted to buying local materials worth Sh130 billion (US$ 1.5bn) or 40 per cent of project costs. Transport secretary Michael Kamau says the move will boost the economy during the construction phase that starts in September and is expected to end in June 2017.
China Road and Bridge Corporation has been appointed to construct the initial Kenyan leg of the new line, despite widespread criticism that there was no competitive tendering for the work.
Sand, cement, electric cables, galvanised iron and steel top list of items to be bought locally during the construction of 609.3km at a cost of Sh327 billion contract price. This is set to benefit cement makers as well as steel firms and protect the local economy from head-to-head competition with established Asian suppliers.
“This is so far the best deal with any of our development partners,” Mr Kamau said yesterday at a symposium organised by the Kenya Railway Corporation (KRC) to sensitise the private sector about the mega project.
“We have set an example for the whole region on engagements with our Asian friends, China in particular.”
The project is designed to cut transport costs and boost regional trade and the next phase will run from Nairobi to Malaba to link to the Uganda and Rwanda sections of the standard gauge railway.
“The project has been designed for Kenyan people to register gains from the first day implementation,” said Mr Han Chunlin, economic and commercial consular at Chinese Embassy in Nairobi. “Apart from direct benefits like technology transfer and buying of local materials, the China Road & Bridge Corporation will also have to fulfill its social responsibility.”
Kenya will receive 90 per cent or Sh294.3 billion of the Mombasa-Nairobi construction price from the China Exim Bank in September. The State has been raising its 10 per cent portion (Sh32.7 billion) through the 1.5 per cent railway development levy.
The government says it has since paid out Sh6.6 billion to the contractor to enable it start its work.
“The government can raise its portion of the SGR budget in just two financial years but we intend to continue collecting the levy in future to finance land acquisition and commuter train,” said Mr Kamau.
Apart from building materials, the money will flow into the local economy through land acquisition, security services, skilled and manual labour, logistics, petroleum products, house construction and fencing. Others include supply of explosives, haulage equipment, vehicles and safety equipment.
Three follow-up questions:
CurrentlyWhat gauges are neighbouring regions of Africa using?
Yes, there are plans for direct connections for every country neighbouring Kenya except Somalia.Will there be direct connections between the East African network and other regions?
As of now no signalling system has been identified.What signalling system will be used? ERTMS?