Two Chinese firms have been contracted to maintain the standard gauge railway’s locomotives and wagons ahead of the June 1 launch.
China’s biggest freight wagon manufacturer, CRRC Qiqihar will jointly work with SGR contractor China Road and Bridge Construction (CRBC) in serving the SGR rolling stock.
The CRRC said its contract in Kenya would be the first such international engagement. The Chinese firm has made and supplied 560 wagons for the new project.
Kenya Railways has also contracted a Chinese firm, John Holland, a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) to operate the SGR facility for the next five years.
A dispatch on its website said 60 wagons had since been shipped to Kenya with another 500 wagons currently overseas heading to Kenya.
CRRC said it would be introducing a new product, the piggyback wagon that can carry loaded trucks over a certain distance before the trucks are offloaded to continue with their journey to areas not served by railway lines.
“Such freight wagons can carry trucks to further cut transportation time and fuel cost, especially for long-distance journeys,” it said.
While a truck takes three days to travel from Nairobi to Mombasa, the SGR cargo locomotives take eight hours nonstop thereby ending the traffic nightmare that truck endure along the Mombasa-Nairobi highway.
At the same time, China’s locomotive engines maker, CCRC Qishuyan has assured Kenyans that it will meet the May 1 deadline in delivery of 56 locomotive engines.
CCRC said the delivery currently underway will see 43 DF8B freight locomotives, 5 DF11 passenger locomotives and 8 DF7G shunting locomotives shipped to Kenya.
Last weekend, CRRC Qishuyan said it had dispatched the fourth batch of 23 locomotives for the SGR line.
Currently, the SGR locomotives are undergoing trial runs ahead of the planned June 1 official launch.
On its part Kenya Railways has capacity to move upto 22 million tonnes.