Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday launched the second phase of the Standard Gauge Railway project (SGR), the country’s largest infrastructure project since independence, after two years of the completion of the first phase, reported Reuters.
President Kenyatta waved the Kenyan flag and inaugurated the second phase of the country’s new railway. He then joined the first ride and listened to the on-board announcements.
On the occasion, the Kenyan president said the completion of the Nairobi Suswa section of the SGR project is expected to revolutionize the development of the surrounding areas.
The railway line that connects the capital city of Nairobi to Naivasha, in Nakuru county, will be open on Thursday. The new track is 120 kilometers (75 miles) long and has 12 stations. Passengers can ride the trains, but the railway is mainly for cargo. The extension links to the $3.2 billion line between the port of Mombasa and Nairobi that opened in 2017.
Musembi Mumo, director of Kenya Railway, said the railway line was built by a Chinese construction company, China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) and cost $1.5 billion.
“The rail project is happening in stages,” Mumo said. “Phase one was funded and completed and phase two has now been completed. The funding was from the Exim Bank of China.”
Mumo assured that phase one and two are not the end of the line for the railway project as it is supposed to connect six other East African countries in the coming years,, opening the region to international trade.
“We are hoping it will help the country’s economy as it has done for phase one with tourism in Mombasa,” Mumo
Notably, the upgradation of the Kenyan railways has been part of Beijing’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, multi-billion dollar infrastructure projects aimed at improving land and maritime trade routes between China and Europe, Asia and Africa.