By Eric Biegon in Jiangsu, China
A team of officials from Kenya is in China to firm up deals for the final batch of passenger coaches and cargo locomotives to be used in the soon to be commissioned Standard Gauge Railway line.
Speaking after a tour of China Railway Rolling Stock Corp Company in Qishuyan, Jiangsu province of China, the officials revealed that they are in the race against time to ensure the coaches and locomotives arrive early enough to begin operations at the set date of 1st June 2017.
According to Kibaara Kaigu, who is part of the delegation, the June date is fast approaching and there was need to ensure everything goes on smoothly according to plan before this deadline.
“We came to check progress of cargo locomotives and the coaches to ensure they will get home in time for the launch.” He said
It is here that he gave details about the stage at which the process has reached.
“They are being tested. They are being fined tuned to make final arrangements to ensure all is in order.” Mr. Kibaara said
The team, largely made up of officials from the technical department of Kenya Railways and another one carrying out documentation, disclosed that it is under strict instructions to make sure that the railway network will be up and running in 2 months’ time without fail.
“We had to check progress. We don’t want to be caught off-guard. Even though we have been assured of progress we want to confirm all is well. We are not leaving anything to chance.” He said
Kibaara, who is also the series producer at the Department of Film Services, disclosed that they have procured coaches for various categories in order to meet the requirements of all people.
“We expect that when VIPs are moving, there will be a coach designated for them and others too. All are being fine-tuned, including the presidential coaches.” He said.
He however allayed fears that everything may not be ready in time for the June deadline. He argued that the Chinese company that has been contracted for the railway vehicles has a huge capacity to handle freight and passenger operations saying its track record speaks volumes.
China Railway Rolling Stock Corp has so far delivered 12 locomotives, 32 coaches and 60 freight cars out of the expected 56 locomotives, 1,620 freight cars and 40 passenger coaches.
According to Kenya Railways managing director Atanas Maina, the new railway line will uplift the country’s economy and help address the growing congestion on the roads.
The delegation also paid a visit to Jiaotong University in Beijing where 60 Kenyan students are undergoing training on railways operations.
The university is famous for high level training in general transport studies all over the world.
The Kenyan students are studying in China under the China Communications Construction Company scholarship program which aims to train 100 Kenya students in railway studies.
The CCCC scholarship program is part of China’s commitment to sponsoring 1,000 Kenyan students for undergraduate studies in China in the next three years.