Britain pledges Sh12bn to develop Nairobi railway city


President William Ruto with James Cleverly, Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs of the United Kingdom, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, Cabinet ministers Kipchumba Murkomen (Transport) Alfred Mutua (Foreign Affairs) during the ground-breaking ceremony for the Railway City Project in Nairobi on December 7, 2022. PHOTO | PCS

The United Kingdom has committed £80 million (Sh11.9 billion) to build a green city of office blocks, malls and a light industrial hub on Kenya Railways land in fresh efforts to decongest the Central Business District as well as create jobs.

The new city will relieve the Central Business District of part of the load in hosting enterprises through setting up economic zones that will comprise hi-tech industries and SMEs in a development set to create over 200,000 new jobs.

The multi-modal facility, which will be developed by British architects, will be situated within a 425-acre land piece, of which Kenya Railways owns 292 acres.

A green city is an urban enclave that incorporates eco-friendly practices, green spaces and supporting technology to reduce air pollution and CO2 emissions, enhance air quality, and protect natural resources.

UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly on Wednesday officiated the ground-breaking of the project that was conceived during retired President Uhuru Kenyatta’s reign at an estimated cost of Sh28 billion.

The site map is within the area containing the Nairobi Central Railway Station, the marshalling yard and the Kenya Railways Pension Scheme Land, popularly known as Landimawe Estate.

It further stretches to the locomotive and wagons workshops and the section of Nairobi’s Industrial Area that borders the southern boundary of the railway station.

The development comes at a time when the cost of renting space in offices and commercial blocks has marginally dropped, defying the ongoing recovery from Covid-19 hardships and return of workers and students.

Earlier this year, listed property investor Ilam Fahari I-Reit reported office rent in top-grade buildings as having dropped by an average of 16.9 percent over the past four years on increased supply.

A statement from the British High Commission in Nairobi Wednesday said the high-tech green development designed by British architects will offer a sustainable face-lift to the country’s capital.

“The Kings Cross London-style development, backed by £80 million of UK Export Finance, will regenerate Nairobi’s bustling central business district as a green urban environment of the future,” read the statement.

According to the Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC), the city will regenerate the area around Nairobi Railway Station into a modern transit facility, provide a livable and sustainable urban space and provide an iconic development to position the Nairobi as a leading world city.

“The strategic location of the Nairobi Central Railway Station area positions it perfectly to be an iconic nerve centre for the Nairobi Multimodal Transport System with a world class new Central Railway Station incorporating mixed use commercial developments, hotels and intermodal facilities,” said KRC.

The facility is part of the six projects worth Sh500 billion to be fast-tracked under a new UK pact signed on the sidelines of the recently-concluded climate conference COP17 held in Egypt.

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