KENYA has unveiled an ambitious Shillings 2.1 trillion ($US 15.15bn) plan to build another 2746km of standard-gauge railway (SGR) to extend its existing 600km network to Kisumu, Malaba and Isiolo by the end of June 2027.

According to a government document seen by Kenyan newspaper Business Daily, the plan is part of the Shillings 3.42 trillion Lamu Port South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) project, which aims to open up northern Kenya to economic development and revamp the northern corridor by improving transport connections within Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

The project proposes extending the SGR infrastructure from Naivasha to the border town of Malaba via Kisumu, as it was initially envisioned in the original Chinese-backed SGR project, as well as Isiolo, Moyale and the island of Lamu. The line will continue from Mariakani in Mombasa County to Lamu and Isiolo, and connect with the northeastern town of Moyale, which borders Ethiopia.

From Isiolo, the government eventually plans to extend the SGR to Nairobi, connecting the country’s capital city and commercial hub with northern Kenya and finally to Ethiopia.

External financiers will cover the bulk of the financing for the new SGR lines, which are expected to cost around Shillings 1.8 trillion. The remaining financing will come from the Kenyan government. The 472km SGR from Mombasa to Nairobi, which opened in May 2017, and was extended by 120km to Naivasha in October 2019, was financed by the Chinese at a total cost of Shillings 656.1bn.

At 753.2km the section from Isiolo to Nakodok, a small town near the border between Kenya and South Sudan, is the longest stretch of the planned SGR. It is expected to cost Shillings 443.2bn.

The 544.4km section from Lamu to Isiolo is expected to cost Shillings 348.7bn, while the 475.9km section from Isiolo to Moyale is expected to cost Shillings 317.8bn. The 325.3km line connecting Mariakani to Lamu will cost Shillings 257.3bn, while the 278km line connecting Nairobi to Isiolo will cost Shillings 239.2bn.

Phase 2B of the SGR from Naivasha to the lakeside city of Kisumu will cost Shillings 380bn while the last leg, 2C, from Kisumu to Malaba bordering Uganda will cost another Shillings 122.9bn.

Although the ministry’s document indicates that construction of these railway lines will begin at the start of July, no budgetary allocation has been made for the SGR for the next three financial years.

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