Plans to construct a modern rail line linking JKIA to the Nairobi Central Business District (CBD) are back on track after the government announced that it had secured a Ksh14 Billion loan from the French Government.
Speaking to Business Daily, Transport CS James Macharia confirmed that construction works of the line which is expected to pass over Mombasa road would commence in March 2021 and be completed in under two years.
“The French government has committed to finance the construction of a new rail link passing over Mombasa Road from Syokimau standard Gauge rail terminus into JKIA to the tune of Ksh14 Billion,” he stated.
President Uhuru Kenyatta at the Nairobi Central Railway Station on November 10, 2020.
The JKIA line is expected to cover 5Km and the works will also include the upgrading of the 17-Km railway track that links the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line at Syokimau from where the new line will be built to the airport.
“The cost will also include upgrading the existing meter gauge line from the Nairobi Central Station to Syokimau train terminus,” he added.
The new deal suggests a departure from the initial plan where a consortium of French firms would have been contracted for the job and were to recover their money from fare charges.
There was a push and pull between the Treasury Ministry and the Ministry of Transport where the latter refused to commit funds to facilitate the deal over secrecy in the deal.
“A properly functioning urban commuter rail system and Bus Rapid Transit System in our cities, and particularly here in Nairobi, will transform the lives of millions of urban dwellers as well as make Nairobi a wonderful experience for tourists and visitors.
“Our target is to have 500,000 urban commuters moving freely daily within the next 12 months. This number will grow to over a million commuters daily within the next five years,” Kenyatta noted in 2019.
Currently, there is a rail and bus service offering transport to commuters from the Nairobi CBD to JKIA.
The trip entails both rail and road in which commuters are dropped at the Embakasi Village Station before boarding a BRT service bus to JKIA at a cost of Ksh500 per trip.
Transport CS James Macharia (second left) sanitises his hands while preparing to board a train on Monday, December 7, 2020.