China-funded Mombasa-Kenya railway lauded by African diplomats

China-funded Mombasa-Kenya railway lauded by African diplomats

Aug 17, 2016: The China-funded Mombasa-Nairobi railway in Kenya, which will eventually extend to the entire East African region, has won acclaims from African diplomats.

Thirteen African countries' diplomats in Kenya on Tuesday visited construction sites of the China-funded Mombasa-Nairobi railway in the country, hailing it as an embodiment of thriving China-Africa ties.

Ambassadors or high commissioners of Zimbabwe, Uganda, Ghana, Algeria, Senegal, Mozambique and Rwanda attended the event at the invitation of the Chinese embassy.

Joined by Kenyan officials and the Chinese Ambassador to Kenya, Liu Xianfa, the diplomats visited construction sites of the Athi River bridge and the Nairobi terminal.

During the visit, the Rwandan High Commissioner to Kenya, James Kimonyo, said he was impressed by the high levels of involvement of Kenyan engineers and technicians in the project.

The China-funded standard gauge railway (SGR) will run from the port of Mombasa to the capital Nairobi, replacing a track built a century ago during the British colonial rule. The project is being carried out by the China Road and Bridge Corporation.

In the second phase, the railway will reach Kenya's western border with Uganda, and the rail is expected to eventually extend to other East African countries.

At a meeting after the tour, the Zimbabwean ambassador and the dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Kenya, KelebertNkomani, said the SGR dovetailed with Africa's blueprint on socio-economic transformation, saying it would unleash huge benefits in Kenya and across the Eastern African region upon completion.

"The SGR is an extremely vital project that addresses transportation of goods from the port to the interior. It will greatly improve efficiency in trade," Nkomani said.

Nkomani said the Mombasa-Nairobi railway presented other African countries with sound insight on how to modernize their transport systems.

"The SGR project is a case study in adherence to high degrees of professionalism and inclusiveness. Local people have benefited from the project," said Nkomani.

Construction of the railway has created more than 40,000 jobs for locals, with some 20,000 local employees having received skills training.

Nkomani said sourcing of local materials, job creation and transfer of expertise in the work on the railway had benefited Kenya's economic development, and were worth emulating by other African countries.

"We have so much to learn from the SGR project. It has offered vital lessons like inclusiveness in terms of sourcing alongside adherence to environmental standards," Nkomani said.

Ambassador Liu told the diplomats the SGR would promote economic prosperity and social development, adding the design of the rail ensured free movement of wildlife animals. He described the SGR as a model of win-win cooperation between China and Africa.

The 472km Mombasa-Nairobi railway is expected to be put into use at the end of 2017.

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