Kenya opens second phase of $1.5 billion Chinese-funded railway

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday opened the second phase of Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project – Kenya’s largest infrastructure project since independence.

The US$1.5 billion railway, funded and built by Chinese companies, comprises a stretch of track running from capital city Nairobi to the Rift Valley town of Naivasha and connects to the first phase of the project.

The first phase delivered a railway line between the Port of Mombasa and Nairobi and was completed in 2017 as part of China’s One Belt, One Road initiative – an ambitious billion-dollar infrastructure project throughout Asia, Europe and Africa.

Passengers will be able to use the services this week despite the line being intended primarily for freight traffic. Kenya had planned to open an industrial park in Naivasha but has had to delay the plans.

The next phase of the SGR project has also faced problems after China earlier this year refused to fund the planned $3.7 billion extension from Nairobi to the Ugandan border town of Malaba.

Transport Minister James Macharia said then that the government would spend $210 million to rehabilitate the colonial-era Malaba line instead.