In Kenya, rail­way build­ing faces chal­lenges

China Daily (Canada) - - ANALYSIS - By EDITH MUTETHYA

edith­mutethya@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Work is set to start this year on the chal­leng­ing sec­ond phase of Kenya’s stan­dard gauge rail­way net­work de­vel­op­ment.

The north­ern cor­ri­dor link, known as 2A, will be con­structed by China Road and Bridges Corp, fol­low­ing com­mis­sion­ing of the project by the Kenyan Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta on Oct 19.

The Ksh 150 bil­lion ($1.5 bil­lion) project will ex­tend from Nairobi to Naivasha, the coun­try’s geothermal pro­duc­tion cen­ter, lo­cated in the north­west of the city.

While this phase of the project is only 120 kilo­me­ters long, it is ex­pected to take longer to con­struct ow­ing to the moun­tain­ous ter­rain.

It is es­ti­mated it will take fourand-half years to com­plete, com­pared with the first phase — the 472 km Nairobi-Mom­basa Stan­dard Gauge Rail­way — which took just two years.

Ac­cord­ing to CRBC, the ge­o­graph­i­cal con­di­tions of Ngong Hills and Great Rift Val­ley are un­fa­vor­able and the ter­rain is com­plex.

“To over­come the ad­verse con­di­tions for phase 2A, we plan a large amount of high back­fill­ing and deep cut­ting. For spe­cific sec­tions, we will con­struct slab-pile walls or re­tain­ing walls to pre­vent slopes from col­laps­ing,” a re­port from CRBC states.

The project will also in­volve the con­struc­tion of four tun­nels, the long­est of which will be more than 4.5 km and the short­est half a kilo­me­ter. Nine long bridges will also be built, three of them more than a kilo­me­ter in length, with the long­est be­ing 6.7 km, travers­ing Nairobi Na­tional Park. It will be the third-long­est bridge in Africa after Oc­to­ber Bridge in Cairo, Egypt, which is 20.5 km long, and Third Main­land Bridge, in La­gos, Nige­ria, at 10.5 km.

Com­mis­sion­ing the project in Oc­to­ber, Pres­i­dent Keny­atta urged com­mu­ni­ties along the route to co­op­er­ate with the con­trac­tor to en­sure the project is com­pleted on sched­ule.

Clear­ing the air over fears about land com­pen­sa­tion — pre­vi­ously a source of ma­jor con­flict between the con­trac­tor and lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties — Keny­atta as­sured res­i­dents that once the land is sur­veyed the Na­tional Land Com­mis­sion will eval­u­ate it and the af­fected peo­ple will be com­pen­sated. The com­pen­sa­tion funds, he said, had al­ready been set aside in the Rail­way De­vel­op­ment Fund.

The pres­i­dent hit out at lo­cal lead­ers, in­clud­ing mem­bers of county as­sem­blies, for al­legedly in­cit­ing res­i­dents to at­tack SGR work­ers.

On Aug 28, a group of Ma­sai youths at­tacked 14 Chi­nese na­tion­als at the Duka Moja Rail­way con­struc­tion site in Narok county, de­mand­ing job op­por­tu­ni­ties from the con­trac­tor.

Keny­atta ad­vised res­i­dents to voice their griev­ances through of­fi­cial chan­nels such as county gov­ern­ments, the Min­istry of Trans­port and re­gional com­mis­sion­ers.

“If you at­tack the work­ers, it means the project will be sus­pended, hence you lose your jobs. Please don’t opt to do that,” he said.

Atanas Maina, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Kenya Rail­ways, says the gov­ern­ment has beefed up se­cu­rity to en­sure that em­ploy­ees are not at­tacked.

PAN SIWEI / XIN­HUA

Work­ers at the con­struc­tion site of the Mom­basa-Nairobi stan­dard gauge rail­way in Kenya.

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