The Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) linking Nairobi to the resort town of Naivasha will spark industrial revival and boost the competitiveness of Kenya’s manufactured goods overseas, experts have said.
Garrison Ikiara, an economics lecturer at the University of Nairobi said the launch of phase 2A of SGR will boost Kenya’s economy through seamless transportation of industrial goods to the hinterland and across the larger eastern African region.
“One of the expected immediate benefits of the operationalization of the Nairobi-Naivasha section will be a highly significant cost reduction for cargo ferried from Mombasa port to countries like Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda, DR Congo and Ethiopia,” Ikiara said during an interview with Xinhua.
He said that the establishment of a dry port and Special Economic Zones that will be an integral component of SGR phase 2A infrastructure, will position Kenya as regional manufacturing, logistics and transportation hub.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to commission the extended railway line that is a key component of the proposed Mombasa-Nairobi-Malaba SGR project.
China Communications Construction Company has been implementing the 120 km modern railway project since October 2016.
Ikiara hailed operationalization of the extended railway line saying it will inspire Kenya’s neighboring countries to complete their sections and enhance their link to the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.
“The launch will underline the government’s commitment to implementing the whole SGR project within Kenyan territory in order for neighboring countries to carry the process forward as this part of Africa becomes part and parcel of the Belt and Road Initiative,” said Ikiara.
He said that phase 2A of the SGR project will revitalize the rural economy through efficient, safer and affordable movement of goods, labor and capital.
Edward Kusewa, economic lecturer at St Paul’s University said that the Nairobi-Naivasha railway line will benefit local horticulture and cash crop farmers through enhanced movement of their produce to export destinations.
“The Naivasha cargo terminal is expected to benefit Kenya’s horticultural industry that is concentrated in Naivasha,” said Kusewa.
Fresh produce from Naivasha will now arrive at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport faster and at more affordable rates as compared to when transported by road,” he added.
Kusewa said that tourism will boom in Naivasha and surrounding regions thanks to the availability of a hassle-free mode of transporting visitors to scenic attractions that dot Kenya’s expansive Rift Valley region.
Kenyan tea producers said recently they are anticipating seamless transportation of the commodity from the country’s highlands to the port of Mombasa from where it is shipped overseas, once the Nairobi-Naivasha SGR is operational.
“We are currently in negotiations with the government to give us preferential transportation rate so that we can use the SGR terminal at Naivasha and Nairobi to the port of Mombasa to transport the tea cargo for exports,” said Apollo Kiarii, chief executive officer of Kenya Tea Growers Association.
He said that ferrying bulk tea from 21 rural counties where it is grown to the port of Mombasa by road is costly and insecure.