At least 5,000 foreign workers will be shipped into the country to undertake the construction of the 609km standard gauge railway from Mombasa to Nairobi, officials said Tuesday.
The foreign workers, mainly Chinese, will supplement the 30,000 local workers who will be recruited for the Sh327 billion project that commences in October.
“The contractor will bring in the workers and get additional ones locally. We have also commenced discussions to reduce timelines and ensure that the project is completed by 2017,” Kenya Railway Corporation (KRC) managing director Atanas Maina said in a statement. The project has an official timeline of March 2018.
The KRC top management met with Private Sector Railway Consortium – private players working on a framework for local participation – to plan the mega infrastructure deal that seeks to connect Kenya to the landlocked states of Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan.
The China Road and Bridge Corporation, the main contractor of the project, is expected to ship in a large proportion of the 5,000 workers from its home country.
The Transport and Infrastructure ministry estimates that 60 jobs will be created for every kilometre of the rail project.
“Plans are under way to ensure that a structured engagement framework is put in place to engage all stakeholders in order to tap into the 40 per cent local content,” said Mr Maina.
The State has pledged to reserve supply of raw materials and services worth at least Sh130 billion – or 40 per cent of the project’s value – for local entities.
Sand, cement, electric cables, galvanised iron and steel are among the items that will be bought locally during the construction.
Logistics, petroleum products, security services, haulage equipment and vehicles will also be among the supplies local companies will provide.
“We must be ready to complement the capacity and do it fast before the Chinese bring everything from China to construct the line. We have to make maximum returns from it,” said industrialist Manu Chandaria.
The private sector consortium members are also looking at setting up businesses and industries around five stations planned at Mariakani, Voi, Mtito Andei, Sultan Hamud and Athi River.
The National Land Commission has already gazetted 300 kilometres of land across various counties ahead of the October start date.