INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT

Traders on Nairobi-Nanyuki rail line move to allow rehabilitation

In Summary

• The rehabilitation of railway line will cost Sh3 billion.

• The 240-kilometre railway is expected to boost the economy of the Mount Kenya region by opening up new trading centres and providing cheaper transportation.

Murang’a police commander Joseph Kinyua at a railway bridge at Kabuku River in Mutumbiri, Murang’a. The section is along Nairobi–Nanyuki railway line which is set for rehabilitation
30% HAVE MOVED Murang’a police commander Joseph Kinyua at a railway bridge at Kabuku River in Mutumbiri, Murang’a. The section is along Nairobi–Nanyuki railway line which is set for rehabilitation
Image: /COURTESY

Traders who have been selling their wares along the Nairobi–Nanyuki railway line have started relocating to give room for the Sh3 billion rehabilitation of the line.

The railway line ceased to operate several decades ago.

So far, 30 per cent of the traders have sought alternative areas to conduct their businesses after the Kenya Railway Corporation issued a notice requiring them to relocate.

Kenya Railway Corporation managing director Philip Mainga said they are partnering with respective county governments to help relocate traders.

“The relocation exercise has been peaceful, as the project is a government agenda to economically empower Mount Kenya region and increase levels of connectivity,” he said.

The railway line that cuts across five counties is being rehabilitated after the government released Sh1 billion out of the budgeted Sh3 billion.

The 240-kilometre railway is expected to open up new trading centres and provide cheaper transportation of bulk goods from Nairobi to northern Kenya.

The National Youth Service is the main contractor in the rehabilitation drive, Mainga said. Youth from the areas the line passes through will be considered for menial jobs.

Mainga further said they are meeting area leaders and members of the public to enlighten them on the importance of the revival of train services in the large Mount Kenya region.

“We project that within few weeks, more than 70 per cent of those using the railway reserves to conduct their business will have moved to pay the way for rehabilitation works,” Mainga said on the phone.

He decried vandalism of railway stations, saying more resources will be used to revive former stations and appealed to political and community leaders, and the clergy to assist the government actualise the project by ensuring no more encroachment of railway land.

“It is unfortunate that former Kandundu railway station near Murang’a town was vandalised and some materials were stolen,” Mainga said.

The railway line from Nairobi to Nanyuki has 13 stations, which all need to be rehabilitated.

The director further said the government is committed to rehabilitate other metre-gauge railway lines across the country.

He said reviving railway transport would offer an alternative and cheaper mode of transport.

Other metre-gauge lines set for rehabilitation are Voi-Taveta, Gilgil-Nyahururu, Eldoret-Kitale and Kisumu-Butere sections.

Nakuru-Kisumu was identified as a perfect line used in cargo transportation to western Kenya and the neighbouring Uganda state