EXPERT COMMENT

SGR is viable without going to Naivasha or Kisumu

Government says the construction of SGR will end in Naivasha

In Summary

• SGR will still be able to pay for itself because 70% of cargo ends in Nairobi.

• Uganda has to build its part. 

SGR Cargo train
SGR Cargo train
Image: MONICAH MWANGI

The SGR need not reach Kisumu or Malaba for it to be viable. It can still pay for itself even if it stops in Naivasha or Nairobi.

The reason is that as much as 70 per cent of cargo from Mombasa terminates in Nairobi. And for the rail to be able to pay for itself, that is the loan the government borrowed to construct SGR, it has to rely on cargo business, not passengers.

So, whether or not SGR will be able to pay for itself, is when you look at the volume of cargo transported from Mombasa.

When I was the vice chairman of National Assembly Public Investments Committee, we were told 70 per cent of the cargo volume from Mombasa terminates in Nairobi. So, it is only 30 per cent that goes past Nairobi to Kisumu, Malaba and other areas. So, the rail was able to pay for itself the moment it reached Nairobi.

The reason for the extension to Naivasha was because of the Industrial Park. It was not necessarily because of Malaba. Of course, we know eventually it will get there. We are just saying that for the time being, we want to end it in Naivasha. But as we repay the loan, we can start thinking if we can take it beyond Naivasha.

We hope by the time we decide whether we should extend the line to the border, other East Africa counties shall have in a way committed themselves to its construction. It should be known that apart from just the cargo, the viability of the SRG, again for Kenya to realise its value,  has to come with construction on the Ugandan side.

And also, I don’t think neighbours like Uganda can suffer or complain if we fail to extend the railway line because they have not even started constructing theirs. So by the time they will be able to commit to theirs, we should be able to tell whether we can extend ours to the border.

The Kikuyu MP and the National Assembly Budget Committee  chairperson spoke to the Star