Transport CS Macharia makes a surprise announcement on SGR

The new twist, Macharia says, will dent the tax payers an additional cost to a tune of 15 per cent of the money already spent on the construction of the 472km line from Mombasa to Nairobi.

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Mr Macharia has said that the SGR will be upgraded to an electric railroad once the power supply becomes dependable.

The new twist, however, Mr Macharia has said, will dent the tax payers an additional cost to a tune of 15 per cent of the money already spent on the construction of the 472km line from Mombasa to Nairobi.

"We didn't want to construct an electric line yet we don't have a dependable source of electricity. So we had to construct a diesel locomotive line with a provision of upgrading it," Macharia told journalists on his tour at the SGR construction site near the Port of Mombasa.

Mr Macharia has instead said that the undependability of the power in Kenya could not allow a onetime roll out of the electric rail, and that the assurance that there enough power to sustain the line would mean an immediate roll out.

"We hope to upgrade in about three to four years," he said.

Already the new SGR has cost an approximated Sh328 billion, in which a 90 per cent is financed by China’s Exim Bank, with Kenya financing only 10 per cent, in terms of compensation to people affected along the line.

Critics, however, have compared the Kenyan rail with the Ethiopia’s electric rail, arguing that Kenya has spent a lot on an archaic technology. Ethiopia’s electric rail cost Sh100 billion. Kenya’s rail wagons will be powered by diesel.

Despite flagged expected direct benefits to residents from the rail by the government, economists argue there will be little trickle-down effect and few benefits to ordinary Kenyans.

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