Murkomen right, SGR needs to reach Uganda

Extending the SGR to Kisumu, Malaba and Kampala is the only way to make the new railway profitable

In Summary

• The Transport CS has said that the government still wants to extend the SGR from Naivasha to Nakuru

• Extending the SGR from Naivasha to Nakuru will cost Sh380 billion and at least as much again to get to Kampala

A Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) freight train leaving Mombasa for Nairobi.
A Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) freight train leaving Mombasa for Nairobi.

Transport CS Kipchumba Murkomen said earlier this week that he wants the SGR extended to Kisumu. He is absolutely right. The SGR must go beyond its present terminus in Naivasha.

The SGR is presently a loss-making white elephant, a drain on the Treasury. It is full of passengers to Mombasa but it still not carrying enough freight.

To become fully profitable, the SGR needs to reach Kampala as was originally intended. Then it will get a huge amount of freight because the train will be much faster than a lorry travelling from Mombasa to Uganda. Moreover the SGR will carry all imports for Rwanda, Congo and South Sudan. An extension to Kampala will be transformative and make the SGR profitable. That will benefit both Uganda and Kenya.

But it will cost Sh380 billion to extend the SGR to Kisumu via Narok-Bomet-Kericho. And then cash-strapped Uganda will have to pay a similar amount to get the SGR from Kisumu, or Malaba, to Kampala.

That funding will be a challenge but it is an absolute necessity if we want the SGR to become profitable and freight times from Mombasa to central Africa to be dramatically speeded up.

Quote of the day: "Sometimes history needs a push."

Vladimir Lenin
The Russian leader called for the October Revolution on November 5, 1917

WATCH: The latest videos from the Star