The Kenya Railways Corporation is set to resume operations on the Nakuru-Kisumu route in June following a successful rehabilitation of the meter gauge railway line.
Kenya Railways Board Chairman, Maj. Gen (Rtd) Pastor Omudho Awitta, said major rehabilitation works along the 216 km stretch have been completed, adding that engineers were working on the final touches before resumption of services.
“All the major works are complete but we just have a few areas, especially on the bridges which we expect to finish in a couple of weeks,” he said.
Omudho who led a multi-agency team to inspect the line from Nakuru to Kisumu said the work has been done up to standard, adding that once operations resume it will open up the lake region for trade.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, he said, are expected to arrive in Kisumu for Madaraka Day celebrations aboard the train from Nakuru this weekend signifying the resumption of operations.
“I cannot disclose the exact location where the President will board the train but I can assure you that he will arrive in Kisumu aboard a train,” he said.
Speaking at Marine School in Kisumu, Omudho who was flanked by Petroleum and Mining Principal Secretary (PS), Andrew Kamau and Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation (ICDC) Chairman, John Ngumi, said the Nakuru Railway Station has been rehabilitated and was ready for use by passengers.
Kenya Railways, he added was working the schedules and tariffs for both passengers and cargo and an official communication shall be out before resumption of services.
He asked residents of Kisumu and the lake region to take advantage of the new development and diversify their enterprises, including food and horticultural production in order to have enough to transport to other parts of the country for sale aboard the train.
President Uhuru Kenyatta who will preside over Madaraka Day Celebrations in Kisumu on 1st June, Omudho said. He will officially open the Marine School which is under the Railway Training Institute, to offer maritime training at certificate and Diploma level.
The President is also expected to open the Sh. 450 million Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium, which is the venue for the celebrations, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Sports Complex among others.
The revamped railway line has sparked excitement at a number of old towns along the line which collapsed after the train services halted.
At Fort Tenan in Kericho County, one of the busiest railway terminus, residents are upbeat that the train will breathe life in the sleepy town and open up opportunities for businessmen.
William Kiptanui, a small scale trader said through the train, he will be able to hop from one station to the other and back selling his wares to passengers.
“To move by matatu nowadays is too costly, limiting our ability to trade across the region,” he said.
By Chris Mahandara