The Kenya Railways Corporation has announced plans to build a 2-kilometre Standard Gauge Railway line linking the SGR Miritini passenger train terminus to the Central Mombasa train station.
The move is aimed at enhancing faster movement of passengers between the two locations.
Mombasa-bound passengers travelling on the SGR train from Nairobi have been alighting at the Miritini terminus, forcing them to finish the journey by road where they spend up to five hours to cover the 22 kilometre distance.
Those heading to western parts of Mombasa, including Mikindani, Moi International Airport and Jomvu, have been bearing the brunt of the traffic jam blamed on trucks carrying cargo from Mombasa port.
“The line will provide services for people leaving Syokimau train terminus to Mombasa and those coming from Mombasa to Nairobi by train via the Miritini terminus,” said Kenya Railway managing director Atanas Maina.
Speaking in Nairobi on Thursday, Mr Maina said feasibility studies to ascertain the actual cost of the project are ongoing and will take one month.
Once a feasibility study is done, he said, the project will start as soon as funds are available. Works on the high speed line, he said, will take about 12 months to complete.
“The feasibility studies and preliminary designs will help in defining the various issues relevant in determining whether the project is worthwhile or not. China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), China Railway Design Corporation and APEC Consortium Limited are doing the studies.”
CRBC is among the latest in a growing list of Chinese firms to be involved in the SGR project, a move that is set to raise criticism over the transparency of the process.
Kenyan officials acknowledge that there was no public bidding for the Mombasa to Nairobi SGR line, which they said was a condition of Chinese lenders to help fund construction. The line cost Sh447.5 billion including financing costs.
China’s biggest freight wagon manufacturer, CRRC Qiqihar, has also been contracted to service locomotives and wagons while another Chinese firm — China Communications Construction Company is set to operate the new railway line for five years.
They are also building phase 2A of the 120 kilometre Nairobi-Naivasha line at a cost of Sh150 billion.
Phase 2A of the SGR project will be followed up by Phase 2B that will extend the SGR to Kisumu at an estimated cost of Sh350 billion, a bulk of which is expected to be financed through loans from Exim Bank of China.