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Rwanda lauds Kenya’s SGR progress, cuts a Sh124bn deal with China for own line

Rwanda has reaffirmed its commitment to the construction of the 2,000 kilometres-Northern Corridor Standard Gauge Railway line between Kigali and Mombasa, challenging its regional partners to speed up the work


The High Commissioner to Kenya James Kimonyo yesterday said his government is in the final stage of talks with China’s Export-Import Bank for a $1.2 billion (Sh123.5 billion) loan to fund the Rwandan section, which could begin

“We are getting ready to start as Kenya does its part and Uganda engages financiers from China. We have done a feasibility study and will begin soon after finalising talks with the Exim bank and other partners,” Kimonyo said in Nairobi, during this year’s Kenya-Rwanda business forum.

“We want Uganda to move with the same speed as Kenya.”

The new development is a boost to the Kenya’s SGR project, whose viability had been threatened by Uganda’s earlier threats to bolt out of a joint venture on the project. Rwanda was also reported to have chosen to re-route its standard gauge railway from the Uganda- Kenya line, and instead favoured a Tanzania route to Dar es Salaam.

He said Rwanda remains committed to regional integration, including developing the Kigali-Kampala-Eldoret refined petroleum pipeline, which will extend the existing comprehensive multi-product system within Kenya.

“We remain committed to ensure SGR and other infrastructure projects along the Northern Corridor works effectively,” Kimonyo said, calling on investors to fund projects and invest in the country, currently ranked first in the ease of doing business in East Africa by the World Bank.

Uncertainty on the SGR in the neighbouring countries had sent jitters in Kenya raising questions over its viability.

However, the financier of both the Kenyan and Ugandan lines, Exim Bank, is understood to have laid down conditions that two must appoint one operator to carry out maintenance work between Mombasa and Kampala, for the bank to consider any financing, according to Kenya Railways managing director Atanas Maina.

Uganda is negotiating a $2.3 billion (about Sh236.7 billion) loan with Exim Bank to fund an initial 273 kilometre track, linking Kampala to Kenya’s border town of Malaba.

The construction to be carried out by China Harbour Engineering Company is expected to take 40 months.

Kenya’s Sh327 billion-472 kilometresMombasa-Nairobi line was 98 per cent complete in December, according to Transport CS James Macharia.

The Kenya Railways Corporation has received 210 wagons so far out of a total of 1,620 that were ordered for the route.

Treasury secretary Henry Rotich is expected to fly to China to negotiate for more loans to build the Naivasha-Kisumu-Malaba line.

Kenya started test rides on the Mombasa-Nairobi SGR this month to ensure optimum performance once full operations begin in June.A test run on March 8 took two hours from Nairobi to Mtito Andei.

Jimirasire

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