The proposed standard gauge railway line from Kenya’s Indian Ocean port of Mombasa to the capital, Kampala, and onwards to the Rwandan capital, Kigali, will be given to an internationally recognised railway management company to operate once it is completed in 2018, says project manager Solomon Oguna.
Kenya Railway Corporation and the Export-Import Bank of China say they are currently preparing tender documents for the management of the railway line with the winner expected to be picked in early 2016.
The project, which was launched by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in November last year, has faced political and financial challenges, raising doubts about its completion date.
The 327-billion-shilling (about US$3.72 billion) railway line from Mombasa to Nairobi is expected to be completed in December 2017 but civil engineers have raised doubts on the practical completion date saying the project was likely to take longer than anticipated.
China’s Exim Bank has yet to start releasing funds earmarked for the project since it is waiting for the National Treasury to source Kenya’s contribution of 15 per cent of the project cost.
Oguna said the two parties had reached an agreement on how the funds would be disbursed to avoid delays and added that once completed, the project would be managed by a private railway operator of international repute.
China is demanding that the manager must have experience of managing Chinese railway lines. Tender documents are being prepared and a manager is expected to be picked in the first quarter of 2016.
Cosma Gatere, the investor relations manager of Rift Valley Railways (RVR), which has a concession until 2031 to operate the current railway line from Mombasa to Nairobi to Kisumu on the shores of Lake Victoria, said RVR had so far invested 10 billion shillings to revive business along the current line.
RVR plans to bid for the management of the new railway line.
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