Kenya to open $1bn Chinese-built railway line

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A banner on the Kenya Railways Facebook page announces the launch of the passenger service

The second phase of Kenya’s new railway line, connecting the capital Nairobi to the Rift Valley region, will be opened today for passenger services only.

Cargo services will have to wait for the construction of a dry port, which could take longer than planned after the local Maasai community moved to court to oppose its construction.

The 120km (74 miles) stretch has been built by the China Communications and Construction Company at a cost of 150 billion Kenyan shillings ($1.4bn; £1.10bn).

Passenger services will only be available in four of the 12 stations, The Business Daily newspaper quotes Kenya Railways head Philip Mainga

as saying.

The entire line, initially planned to reach Naivasha town, has not been completed and ends kilometres away from any major town or population, the Daily Nation newspaper reports.

Its launch lacks the fanfare witnessed at the opening of the first phase – which cost $3bn to build – running from the coastal city of Mombasa to Nairobi in May 2017.

The Standard Gauge Railway line project has cost close to three times the international standard and four times the original estimate.

The government explained the reasons for the high cost include the terrain that required many bridges, tunnels and land compensation.

About 80% of the money for the railway came through loans from China.

The initial plan was for the railway to run from the coastal town of Mombasa to the lakeside town of Kisumu, and a possible extension to Uganda. But in April the Chinese government pulled the plug over viability concerns.

The country will now need to borrow an additional $3.3bn to complete the project.

Source: BBC

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