Kenya seeks adviser to find standard gauge railway operator

Tuesday March 29 2016

Rail sleepers for standard gauge railway at

Rail sleepers for standard gauge railway at Kathekani production site in Makueni County on March 17, 2016. The railway network is expected to boost commerce in Kenya and East Africa once completed in June 2017. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By Allan Olingo

In a move likely to signal a shift to the standard gauge railway (SGR) later next year, Kenya has invited bids for an adviser to help identify an operator for its new rail network that is set for completion in mid-2017.

The 472km railway line is expected to carry freight trains at speeds of up to 80kph, and passenger trains at up to 120kph. It will run from the port in Mombasa to Nairobi then to Malaba, and then on to Kampala, Uganda and eventually to Kigali, Rwanda.

“The transaction adviser will recommend the appropriate operating model for the railway which will then inform the procurement of the operator,” Kenya Railways said in a newspaper advertisement.

This comes barely days after Kenya said it was in discussion over the funding of the last link of the SGR between Naivasha and Malaba after the Cabinet last week approved its extension.

“Cabinet approved the development of the Naivasha-Kisumu/Malaba SGR project, which is Phase II of the Mombasa-Kisumu/Malaba SGR; the project will be financed on a government-to-government (G-to-G) arrangement in which Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC), and China Communications Construction (CCCC) will sign the commercial contract,” the State House said.

Kenya Railways Managing Director Atanas Maina said that they were in talks about funding for the remaining stretch of the standard-gauge railway.

“With the Cabinet approval, we expect to commence talks that will see us agree on the amount. We also expect to start work on a link between Nairobi and Naivasha by December this year,” Mr Maina said.

Last December, Kenya announced the extension of the line between Nairobi and Naivasha at a cost of $1.5 billion to be financed by the Export-Import Bank of China. This brought the total cost of the project to $4.7 billion.

Mr Maina said that Uganda has already concluded and signed the commercial contracts for the funding of the link from Malaba to its capital, Kampala.

“Our Ugandan partners have completed the discussions with the contractor and are now at the application stage for funding. This is expected to be from the China Exim Bank,” Mr Maina said.

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