All set for launch of new railway

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By GITONGA MARETE
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President Uhuru Kenyatta will on Wednesday launch the standard gauge railway passenger train service at the Miritini station in Mombasa.

The President is expected to travel by train to Nairobi in the company of senior government and Chinese officials ahead of Madaraka Day celebrations in Nyeri on Thursday.

The SGR is a flagship project of his administration and the Jubilee Party is keen on using it as a campaign tool ahead of the August 8 General Election.

On Tuesday, Mr Kenyatta flagged off a cargo train at the Mombasa port’s second container terminal in a colourful ceremony attended by officials from China Communications Construction Company and Exim Bank.

“This is a historic moment we are witnessing today because this project will transform the economy of this country and all Kenyans,” he said.

“The foundation we are laying today will help propel the economy of this nation because we will set up special economic zones along the route of this railway and at the port,” the President said.

Mr Kenyatta dismissed claims by some Coast leaders that by setting up an inland container depot at Naivasha, the government was planning to move port business to the town.

“We have invested a lot in this port and our intention is to make it a world-class facility,” he said.

Deputy President William Ruto said despite the challenges that came with the project, the Jubilee government had delivered it on time.

It will cost $500 (Sh51,750) to transport a 20-foot container from Mombasa to Nairobi, said Kenya Railways managing director Atanas Maina.

He said these introductory rates would apply when the cargo train service starts operating by January next year.

“These are very competitive rates that are at least 30 per cent lower than those charged by trucks. We will review the frequency of the trains according to demand,” he said.

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