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Railway Siding to Increase Job Opportunities

The Cabinet Secretary for Trade Investment and Industrialization, Moses Kuria, has said that there will be 500,000 employment opportunities for Kenyans at Export Processing Zone (EPZ), after the Railway siding project is complete.

Kuria was speaking in Athi River, Machakos County, during the Inspection of the Railway siding and Industrial Sheds at the Export Processing Zone (EPZ).

“Currently we have 50, 000 people working here within the EPZ and by the end of this project, we hope to have 500,000 jobs being created here within these facilities and Special Economic Zones,” said Kuria.

The Government through Private Public Partnership (PPP), will connect the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line extension to Athi River Export Processing Zone, to boost exports of leather and apparel products to the international market.

Kuria said that once the project is completed, there will be an increase in export value, market for agricultural products, reduced balance deficit, as well as creating jobs opportunities.

The Trade CS said that through the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which provides duty free market access to the United States for qualifying products produced in Sub- Saharan States, there is also a possibility of creating four million job opportunities in EPZ.

He said 70 percent  of exported goods to the US come from the EPZ through problematic channels since after manufacturing, goods are loaded into trucks to be taken to Mombasa and other areas, but once the project is complete they will manufacture and export the finished goods directly from EPZ, while taking advantage of the AGOA market.

Kuria added that the Railway Siding project is a unique partnership between the Ministry of Trade and Investment, Ministry of Roads and Transport and ministry of Labor who are working together, with their capabilities to bring the best assets and opportunities as a country to improve the lives of Kenyans.

He pointed out that the project of enabling access to the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) and Meter Gauge Railway (MGR), by a private investor such as NSSF is the working model of a new way of financing infrastructure through Public Private Partnership.

“Private Sectors should invest in the Railway Siding because they will be able to achieve a return on investment in a shorter period which is the spirit of the Public Private Partnership that we want to achieve,” Hon Kuria emphasized.

He further added that other than the Athi River EPZ they are working on eight other EPZ across the country, to offload the demand, one in Muranga, Sagana Eldoret, Nakuru, Nyamira and one in Busia to complement the one in Athi River.

The inspection of the Railway Siding was also witnessed by two other Cabinet Secretaries, Roads and Transport, Kipchumba Murkomen, CS Labor, Florence Bore and Principal Secretary Trade and Investment, Abubakar Hassan.

The project is estimated to take 24 months, which will pull in more local and international investors.

Two cargo trains will be made available to transport both raw materials into the zone and transport export garments to Mombasa.

By Ann Kangero

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