The second phase of the SGR linking Nairobi to Naivasha town will be completed next year,and as the train snakes the 120 kilometre line it is set to catalyze urbanisation, opening up towns along the route.
Nairobi metropolitan region has a huge population that is growing at an exponential rate. According to the 2009 national census, the region that comprises Nairobi, Kiambu, Machakos and Kajiado counties had a total population of 6.7 million. It is estimated that the metropolitan region population will grow to 14.3 million people in 2030.
Phase 2A will traverse Kajiado, Nairobi, Kiambu, Nakuru and Narok counties, poised to boost development of urban centres in respective counties enhancing Nairobi’s attractiveness as a commercial and financial hub.
China Communication Construction Company, expects to have five railway stations along the line. The stations were carefully selected with a long-term transport capacity vision promoting economic development. The population distribution and land use activities along the SGR route was another key consideration in the design of the line.
The design will open up real estate markets for investment in Kajiado, Nakuru and Kiambu counties. Historically, urban towns expanded whenever major infrastructure developments make the areas accessible. Perhaps a most significant investment along the route is the proposed Naivasha Industrial Park.
A success story is the Gautrain in Johannesburg, South Africa. The launch of the high-speed rail service between Johannesburg and Pretoria, a distance of about 69 km offered thousands of people commuting daily from Pretoria a reliable and convenient mode of transport.
A KPMG study on the five-year economic impact of the Gautrain showed an approximate Sh86.3 billion injected to new developments and up-grades to retail centres within a 10 km radius of the railway stations. The high-speed rail service also impacted positively on the property values close to the stations, with a significant increase in office space investments.
Development of housing markets in Kajiado, Nakuru, Narok and Kiambu counties would additionally complement the government’s efforts at adding 500,000 affordable units over the next five years.
It is important to note that urbanised areas need reliable transport systems to feed their inhabitants and for the these towns, SGR will be their meal cart. Livestock from ranches in Akira, Mai-Mahiu and Kedong will have a safer, reliable and faster mode of transport. Naivasha-based flower farms will have an alternative and cheaper transport to ferry their produce to various markets. Intra-county trade will also be boosted as towns such as Voi, Makueni and Mombasa can take their produce to deeper markets.
At the same time, the contractor should place more emphasis on creating wealth and employment opportunities for the residents along the route. With the expected economic impact on the satellite towns along the route, the residents ought to be empowered to be in a good position to take advantage of these opportunities.
The writer is marketing manager, Continental Seeds