- The programme will cost a total of Sh3.7 billion.
- Seeks to raise employment rates in the zone to almost a half a million, from the current numbers of about 50,000 people.
Kenya plans to improve the competitiveness of its Export Processing Zones to boost local manufacturing and create more job opportunities, Investments and Trade Cabinet secretary Moses Kuria said on Monday.
Tapping on Athi River Export Processing Zone, the government is undertaking a railway siding initiative to link the zone with SGR, to reduce the cost and time of transportation of raw materials and finished products, from and to the Mombasa port.
With a total construction cost of Sh3.7 billion, the siding programme will see the allocation of two SGR trains to and from Mombasa daily.
An additional three SGR locomotives will also be allocated for the zone’s cargo freight services.
“Upon completion, this proposed railway siding will provide convenient, timely and cost-effective way of transportation of cargo for EPZ enterprises within Athi River zone, attracting more investors both local and international,” Kuria said.
He was speaking during an inspection tour at the Athi River EPZ.
The CS said for the programme to create employment and increase the manufacturing sector's contribution to GDP, there is need to provide requisite enabling environment in the form of appropriate infrastructure.
“This will raise employment rates in the zone to almost a half a million, from the current numbers of about 50,000 people as we further efforts through local manufacturing to raise the export trade towards GDP growth and fiscal consolidation,” Kuria said.
Roads, Transport, and Public works CS Kipchumba Murkomen said the move is likely to attract more local and foreign investment, adding value to locally sourced agricultural products and increasing export volume.
“Going for capital investment projects is among the key focus areas we have as a ministry, and venturing into such initiatives is a positive taking in our strive to woo more private sector investment to leverage on the benefits aligned with the public-private partnerships in infrastructure development,” Murkomen said.
He said currently, the government is working on more of tolling policies to attract long-term investments.
Beside the siding programme, the government is also plans to develop additional industrial sheds to meet investor demand for more industrial space.
The demand stands at 3,083,812 square feet, approximately 286,600 square meters with the zone currently having a total build-up area of 1,390,200 square feet, which is fully occupied.
With the current funding towards the project, the zone’s maagement affirmed that additional sheds would be developed. Construction is estimated to take 24 months.
Feasibility, design and documentation are complete and are waiting with final approvals from the relevant authorities pending.