KENYA: A ceremony led by President Uhuru Kenyatta in Mombasa on November 28 marked the start of construction of the first phase of the planned 2 937 km standard gauge cross-border corridor linking the Kenyan port city with Kampala in Uganda and the Rwandan capital Kigali.

The initial phase of the railway would provide a new route between Mombasa and Nairobi, supplementing the metre-gauge Kenya-Uganda Railway operated by Rift Valley Railways.

With an estimated total cost of US$13·5bn, the so-called ‘MoKaKi’ project is being managed by Kenya Railways Corp, while China is providing financial support. Kenyatta was joined at the groundbreaking ceremony by Liu Qitao, Chairman of China Communications Construction Co.

KRC is working on plans for the second phase from Nairobi to the Ugandan border at Malaba, while studies for the 250 km from Malaba to Kampala are also underway. The third phase covers 345 route-km from Kampala to Kasese and 200 km from there to the Rwandan border at Mirama Hills via Bihanga, leaving the Rwandan government responsible for the final section into Kigali. The three governments are considering the scope for a northern branch diverging at Eldoret to serve South Sudan. The line is being designed for passenger trains to run at 120 km/h and freight trains at 80 km/h, with a maximum axleload of 25 tonnes.

‘The project will define my legacy and it is my personal desire that the implementation is done to the highest standard’, Kenyatta said. ‘Kenya will fully meet its obligations towards the project.’