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Chinese-built modern railway in Kenya extolled for its myriad benefits

Updated: October 8, 2023 Source: Xinhua News Agency
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NAIROBI, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese-built Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) has been a catalyst for transformation in Kenya since its launch six years ago, a group of foreign envoys based in Kenya have said.

Speaking during a ride at the SGR passenger train from Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, to the coastal city of Mombasa Friday, the envoys noted that the modern railway project has unleashed myriad benefits including seamless mobility of people and cargo, revitalization of commerce and investments along its 472-km corridor.

Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Zhou Pingjian was joined by ambassadors from Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, South Africa, Egypt, Hungary, and Ethiopia to sample the safe, efficient, and speedy ride guaranteed by the SGR passenger train.

The delegation of envoys that included Maimunah Mohd Sharif, the executive director of the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-HABITAT), watched promotional videos to mark the sixth anniversary of the launch of Mombasa-Nairobi SGR on May 31, 2017, and visited the dispatch center and the China-Kenya monument before embarking on the journey.

Russian Ambassador to Kenya Dmitry Maksimychev said the ride offered him a platform to experience the benefits of China-Kenya cooperation, adding that the SGR project was a model of technology transfer to spur inclusive development.

In addition, Maksimychev noted that the modern railway project adhered to ecological protection ethos during its construction besides enhancing connectivity between Kenya's two largest cities which are commercial and logistical hubs.

An early fruit of China's proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Mombasa-Nairobi SGR is also a flagship project of Kenya's Vision 2030 long-term development blueprint.

It is a critical component of the Northern Corridor of the East African Railway Network and was selected as the 2018 Global Outstanding Railway Project by Engineering News-Record, a weekly magazine.

Construction of phase one of the 472-km SGR project from Mombasa to Nairobi, which began on Dec. 12, 2014, was completed two and a half years later ahead of schedule. The construction of phase 2A of the project which runs from Nairobi to the Rift Valley town of Naivasha covering 120 km commenced in October 2016 and was completed on Oct. 16, 2019.

Having operated without major hitches for 2,314 days as of Sept. 30, 2023, the modern railway line stretching from Mombasa to Naivasha had transported 2,405 million standard containers and 28.609 million metric tons of goods since its reception.

The number of passengers transported through the Mombasa-Nairobi-Naivasha SGR in the same period stood at 11.155 million, with an average seat occupancy rate of 95.8 percent.

Iranian Ambassador to Kenya Jafar Barmaki said that a modern railway network was a strategic investment for the East African Nation given its ability to ease mobility, enhance connectivity and accelerate economic progress.

Mninwa Johannes Mahlangu, the high commissioner of South Africa to Kenya, said that given its positive impact on the local economy and livelihoods, the SGR has served as an inspiration for other African countries in their quest for revolutionizing mobility.

Editor: Duan Jing