Change to SGR park route to cost Sh2bn

El­e­vated track will still bi­sect na­tional park, but there will be less dis­rup­tion to wildlife

The Star (Kenya) - - Politics - RICHARD MUNGAI @Kmarin­dany

The Nairobi-Naivasha stan­dard gauge rail­way will cost Sh2.02 bil­lion more to mod­ify as de­manded by con­ser­va­tion­ists, the Kenya Rail­ways Cor­po­ra­tion has said.

This ex­tra amount will go to­wards ad­just­ing the 36km sec­tion run­ning through the Nairobi Na­tional Park via a tun­nel north­west of Ngong Hills.

The track will now be el­e­vated so wildlife can move be­neath it. This will cost Sh54.84 bil­lion, up from Sh52.82 bil­lion. The 120km Naivasha route was ini­tially es­ti­mated to cost Sh150 bil­lion.

KRC man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Atanas Maina said the mod­i­fi­ca­tion along the Nairobi Na­tional Park will be more costly. It will re­quire sev­eral im­prove­ments to make it 400 me­tres shorter than the ini­tial route, which was to run through the park for 6.4 kilo­me­tres.

“The mod­i­fied sa­van­nah route has been ap­proved by the KWS. It will re­quire ma­jor mod­i­fi­ca­tion to the Nairobi South Hub to al­low re­verse move- ment of trains from and to Naivasha,” Maina said yes­ter­day in Nairobi dur­ing a me­dia brief­ing. “There will also be a need for 50 hectares from Nairobi Na­tional Park to carry out the mod­i­fi­ca­tion.”

The gov­ern­ment ap­proved the de­signs for the Nairobi-Naivasha SGR in March and later signed com­mer­cial con­tracts with the China Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Con­struc­tion Com­pany. Con­struc­tion was ex­pected to start this month.

How­ever, a stand­off with con­ser­va­tion­ists over en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact of the rail­way forced the KRC to fig­ure out a new route to en­sure less con­flict with wildlife. Con­ser­va­tion­ists de­manded the KWS dis­close all de­tails on on­go­ing in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ments in­side parks.

Maina said the SGR will cross the park on a sin­gle bridge span­ning six kilo­me­tres, the to­tal width of the Nairobi Na­tional Park. The av­er­age height of the bridge above the ground will be 18 me­tres, he said.

“This will start from eight me­tres at the en­trance into the north­ern side of the park and 41 me­tres at the south­ern end of the park.”

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