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Clarify plan on railway – Daily Nation

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The government should come out clearly and explain what it wants to do with the railway line after the collapse of discussion on extension of the new line to Kisumu and Busia. After the China debacle two weeks ago, when Kenya failed to secure new funding to roll out the third phase of the standard gauge railway from Naivasha to Kisumu, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said the next option was to revamp the old metre gauge line to complete the circuit.

However, the minister has turned around and announced that, rather than resuscitate the Naivasha-Nakuru-Kisumu route, the new plan is to change course to Eldoret and on to Malaba border. The reasoning is that the Kisumu route would be extremely costly.

Several questions come to mind. First, does the government have a clear plan on the railway? Other than reconstruction costs, has it worked out the economics of the project — inputs versus outputs? What is the plan for the old line? Though not directly related but vitally important, what is being done to secure the properties of Kenya Railway spread across the country and many tied to the old stations that are now defunct and decrepit?

Underlying all these is the principal question: What is the business sense in the SGR terminating at Naivasha and then linking it to the old line?

It is recalled that extension of SGR to Kisumu was also linked to the inland water transport. That it would revive and revitalise regional trade through Lake Victoria, which connects the three East African countries of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Thus, failing to connect to Kisumu would be a disservice to the region.

Mr Macharia and his experts must think through their plan for rail operations and then make right decisions that create value. Conflicting statements portray confusion and lack of clarity.





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