NAIROBI The president of Kenya on Wednesday launched the second phase of a new railway line linking Nairobi with the tourist city of Naivasha, a project that has been financed by China.
The railway is a development and it will boost development in this region, President Uhuru Kenyatta said at the launch.
Kenyatta took part in a trip to launch the new service that departed from the Syokimau area in Machakos County (18 km south of Nairobi) and ended in the town of Mai Mahiu (50 km northeast of the capital).
We will complete the railway and we shall transform Kenya, the president said in statements collected by local media.
He added that the project will be completed once it reached the border with Uganda.
The second phase of the development has been financed by China with a 1.3 billion euro budget.
It complements the line that already connects the coastal city of Mombasa the main port of East Africa with Nairobi, which was inaugurated in May 2017 and also financed by the Asian giant at a cost of some 2.7 billion euros. Kenya has yet to return this sum to China.
The project has an almost exclusively Chinese budget with 80% of funds coming from Asia.
That first section replaced the line of the Lunatic Express, a railway system built by the United Kingdom in Kenya when it was under colonial rule.
This second 120 km-section is open only to passengers and there is no date set for the start of cargo transport.
The route has four stations Ongata Rongai, Ngong, Maai Mahiu and Suswa.
The inauguration, which should have happened last May, was delayed due to disputes over the compensation of some 1,810 people affected by the project.
The most affected area covers a 35-km stretch between Embul Bul Ngong (18 km southwest of Nairobi) and Nairobi National Park, where compensation delays decreased the speed at which the China Communications Construction Company could work.
This railway project has cost almost three times more than the international standard and four times what was estimated, according to the Kenyan Government.
This was put down to the construction of three tunnels, 29 bridges and the land compensation payments.
In the section from Nairobi to Mombasa (481 km southeast of the capital), the government paid 262 million euros to acquire land almost 10 times more than budgeted, while in this second phase it has already spent 154 million euros through the National Land Commission.
The initial plan for this train was to reach the city of Kisumu (335 km northwest of Nairobi) on the shores of Lake Victoria and to cross the border city of Malaba (427 km northwest of Nairobi) to neighboring Uganda.