The Rehabilitation works of the 240-kilometre old Nairobi-Nanyuki railway line has commenced in Laikipia with the goal of spurring economic growth in Central Kenya.
The Sh.3 billion rehabilitation works of the metre-gauge railway line expected to be completed in five months are being undertaken by Kenya Railways Corporation which has already injected Sh.1 billion while the remainder
will be provided by the National government.
The Laikipia Governor, Ndiritu Muriithi while briefing the press at his Nanyuki office on Tuesday said that that the works would be undertaken in three stages in order to speed up the process and have the railway line ready for use by the end of May this year.
“Rehabilitation is in three stages; one group will work from Nanyuki-Marua section, the second group is allocated the Marua-Sagana section while the third will rehabilitate from Sagana-Thika stretch,” Governor Muriiithi said.
He said among the beneficiaries of the revival of the line would be the 11 million litres Nanyuki Petroleum depot operated by Vivo Energy that serves parts of Eastern and Northern Kenya.
“We want to see the large fuel trucks taken of the roads for its safer and cheaper when fuel is moved by rail,” the Governor said.
A spot check at the Nanyuki terminus revealed that works had commenced with local youth who had been contracted by Kenya Railways to clear bushes along the line before engineering works could be carried out.
Governor Muriithi added that cohorts from the National Youth Service (NYS) and technicians from the Kenya Defense Forces would be deployed later once the bush clearing was complete where they would take up the technical aspects of rehabilitation of the railway.
The governor added that the railway line that traverses the five Counties of Kiambu, Murang’a, Kirinyaga, Nyeri and Laikipia was also expected to be extended to Isiolo to link up the region to the Lamu Port and Southern Sudan Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET).
He further added that there were plans to also extend the railway line to Meru, Tharaka Nithi and Embu Counties that were not initially served by the old line with a view of ensuring that all counties under the Central Kenya Economic Block (CEKEB) are served by rail.
“Connecting the entire Central Kenya to the railway line will give economic impetus to the region that boasts of over 10 million in population with a combined economy of 40 billion dollars, we are bigger than some countries,”the Governor said.
He said that the revival of the line comes at an opportune time when large deposits of iron ore have been discovered in Laikipia and therefore would greatly serve in transporting the raw materials to smelting companies in Ruiru.
Muriithi added that even though County governments from the region had committed themselves to each set aside Sh.100 million annually for the revival of the railway line, their financial input would not be required at the moment but they would provide equipment and waiver of cess for ballast and other building materials sourced locally.
By Martin Munyi