SGR to start operations mid 2017

By Ronald Owili

Cargo movement from the Port of Mombasa is expected to improve drastically from mid this year when the Standard Gauge Railway begins operation.

Kenya Railways Corporation Managing Director Atanas Maina says the government also plans to improve the existing meter gauge rail that will see capacity increase to at least 5 million tons annually.

After being in operation for more than a century, the old meter gauge railway has been a crucial infrastructure to the economy.

Years of neglect and inefficiencies has seen the old track handle just 10 percent of cargo leaving the port with the rest being moved by road.

And even as a new standard gauge railway is operationalised mid this year, Kenya Railways Managing Director Atanas Maina says the old track will still play a part in cargo movement along the northern corridor.

Rift Valley Railways was awarded a 25 year concession period to manage the railway in 2010.

Qalaa Holdings of Egypt is currently the largest RVR shareholder at 55 percent with Bomi Holdings of Uganda having a 15 percent while the rest is held by other institutions.

Qalaa is reported to be seeking to fully divest from RVR.

RVR is currently investing more than 28.7 billion shillings in rehabilitating the old meter railway track, and buying new locomotives to sustain operations.

Maina says even with the SGR, the old rail will still be crucial.

SGR is expected to handle 22 million tons from the Port of Mombasa annually.