Rehabilitation of Longonot-Malaba railway kicks off

Wednesday, April 21st, 2021 00:00 |
North Rift region board chairman Maj Gen (rtd) Pastor Awitta.

Wycliff Kipsang

Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) has embarked on an ambitious programme to rehabilitate the dilapidated old metre-gauge railway linking Longonot-Eldoret-Malaba to the neighbouring countries.

 Speaking during a tour of the North Rift region board chairman Maj Gen (rtd) Pastor Awitta disclosed that the rehabilitation of the railway will take seven to eight months.

“There will be a lot of activities in this region in the next seven to eight months; the revival of the railway will shorten time used to transport cargo from Mombasa to Malaba and neighbouring countries,” he said although he declined to reveal the exact cost of the project.

 For many years  the country has been relying on the road transport (trucks) to ferry bulky goods to and from the Port of Mombasa to the EAC region.

Awitta said a multi-agency team led by the Uasin Gishu County Commissioner Stephen Kihara would supervise the rehabilitation programme.

Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago was optimistic that the revamped new rail project will open up the North Rift region and propel trade in the region that traditionally relies on the agriculture.

Facilitate movement

Mandago, who is  also the North Rift Economic Bloc chairperson, urged the agency to also consider construction of a passenger railway- Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) to facilitate movement of people and goods on the corridor.

 “Before the railway collapsed, this region used to ferry 1,000 live animals and their  products to Kenya Meat Commission by rail.

We are looking forward to the revival of this line because it would transform this region,” he said adding: “We have discussed and agreed that those who have encroached into the railway land be given a little time to harvest their crops. We also want our young people to be involved in the rehabilitation works.”

Awitta said the corporation would involve the local people to maintain the revitalised rail line once the contractor completes the work.

National Youth Service personnel are involved in the rehabilitation programme for other works across the country.

Economic potential

The government has also embarked on the rehabilitation of the old Nairobi-Nanyuki metre-gauge railway, with the project expected to unlock Central Kenya region’s economic potential. 

KRC is also reviving the old railway line from Nakuru to Kisumu which has remained neglected for nearly 25 years.

The project, which will cost Sh3.7 billion, is being handled by the Kenya Defence Force in partnership with the Kenya Railways Corporation.

The rehabilitation of the Nakuru-Kisumu line is expected to take eight months.

Defence Chief Administrative Secretary Peter Odoyo in an interview recently said the project would take a maximum of eight months to complete.

“We want to ensure that businesses that depended on this railway line are revived.

Our main work here will involve geometry and drainage correction, track renewal, ballasting, bridge and viaduct repairs, culverts construction and rehabilitation of the old station buildings among other works,” said Odoyo.

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