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Economy

First batch of SGR locomotives docks at Mombasa Port

Workers offload one of the locomotives shipped in from China for operations on the standard gauge railway (SGR) at the Port of Mombasa on January 9, 2017. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT
Workers offload one of the locomotives shipped in from China for operations on the standard gauge railway (SGR) at the Port of Mombasa on January 9, 2017. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT 

Four locomotives docked at the port of Mombasa on Monday, sending a strong signal about the government’s plan to put the Sh372 billion Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) to use by June.

The consignment is the first batch of the powered rail vehicles expected to haul modern wagons along the modern railway.

They arrived ahead of commissioning on Wednesday by Transport and Infrastructure secretary James Macharia, who is expected to flag them off.

In their various past public addresses, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, have told the public that the first train will set off from Nairobi on June 1, 2017 to the seaport city of Mombasa.

The SGR is the biggest infrastructure project in Kenya since Independence. It will shorten the passenger travel time between the two biggest cities in the country from more than 10 hours to about four hours while freight trains will complete the 609km journey in less than eight hours.

The new railway line constitutes the first phase between Mombasa and Nairobi, but aims to connect Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan in subsequent phases.

Although the project that started in 2013 was initially scheduled to be completed in 2018, the government has said it will be ready this year.

The SGR was budgeted to cost Sh372 billion, but this could escalate to Sh447.5 billion when financing costs are included.

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