The Sh. 3.8 billion rehabilitation of Kenya Railways Nakuru-Kisumu line has kicked off in earnest to facilitate transportation of cargo to the revamped Kisumu Port.
The exercise being carried out jointly by Kenya Railways (KR), Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) and National Youth Service (NYS) is expected to be completed in eight months.
Defense Cabinet Administrative Secretary (CAS) Peter Odoyo said KDF engineers were already on site and will do the bulk of the work on the project.
KDF, he said, will work on the dilapidated bridges, culverts and railway stations along the 217 km stretch before Kenya Railways engineers lay the line.
“KDF has experienced engineers who have already done the Nairobi-Nanyuki line and are already here to make this project a success,” said the CAS.
The National Youth Service (NYS), he said has started clearing the railway corridor an exercise that is expected to be completed in four months before the actual works begin.
NYS Deputy Director Zacharia Mutua who accompanied the CAS said already 29km of the railway corridor has been cleared.
“We have two NYS teams doing the clearing. One is doing Kisumu-Fort Tenan and the other Nakuru-Fort Tenan,” he said.
Kenya Railways Marine Manager Mwalimu Disi said the agency will be in charge of supplying materials for the project.
He added that Kenya Railways shall pay casual laborers and engineers involved in the construction.
“Our approach is to engage the local communities as casual laborers. We want people to wake up and walk to work not to be transported,” he said.
The CAS said the railway line was critical to facilitate movement of goods to Kisumu Port to make it viable after remaining dormant for decades.
“This particular section of the railway is very important to the port of Kisumu which requires cargo to make it viable,” he said.
“We are committed to delivering this project within the stipulated time as directed by the President,” he added.
The Kisumu Port, he said, was a key government project which once fully operational will boost the economy of the region.
Uganda and Tanzania, he said were also developing key infrastructure to facilitate movement of goods from Kisumu to the neighbouring countries.
Kenya Navy, he said, has already rehabilitated MV-Uhuru ship which is now operating adding that more vessels shall be procured once the port is fully operational.
Mr. Disi disclosed that the vessel has so far transported 17 million liters of fuel from Kisumu to Port Bell in Uganda.
This, he said, was an indicator of the port’s potential adding that once fully operational more goods will be moved in and out of the country through the port.