By DC/PR and GPS
Rehabilitation of the Gilgil– Nyahururu Meter Gauge Railway line kicked off this morning, vastly enhancing His Excellency Governor Francis Kimemia’s efforts to transform Nyandarua’s dilapidated infrastructure.
Backed by His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta through the Kenya Defence Forces and other National Government commitments, investment in the line is expected to open up Nyandarua and the wider Central Region Economic Bloc (CEREB) – which the Governor heads – to investors, thereby spurring economic growth in tourism, agriculture, sports, trade and other sectors.
“We thank the President for his commitment towards economic growth in the region,” the Governor said after commissioning the works.
He added: “You elected me to make Nyandarua prosperous and united. I have fought for this line. It has finally come! I thank God it is happening on my watch!”
The main commodities that are expected to be transported on the line are beef, milk, horticultural produce, cement, hardware materials and fertilizer.
In addition, there is the potential to move cargo for the Gilgil military base.
According to the Department of Agriculture and Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the current volume of cargo transported from this region to Nairobi and Mombasa is approximately 500,000 tons per year.
The expectation is that up to 50 per cent of this could be potentially converted to rail.
The line is part of the Meter Gauge Railway (MGR) in Kenya.
Completed in 1929, it has been dormant for more than 30 years.
With a route length of 77 kilometres, the line traverses Nakuru, Nyandarua and Laikipia Counties.
It is served by five railway stations, namely Gilgil, Oleolondo, Ol’Kalou, Ol Joro Orok and Nyahururu.
On July 3, 2020, Governor Kimemia encouraged Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) to fast-track opening up the line.
The extension is a specific commitment the Governor made in the third pillar of his manifesto ahead of his election in 2017, in which he promised to lobby the National Government to rehabilitate the section and ultimately upgrade it to a Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line.
It is also expected to be linked to the Naivasha dry port.
At the time, KRC Managing Director Mr. Phillip Maingi pledged speedy rehabilitation.
Mr. Maingi, who today joined the Governor in clearing long elephant grass and inspecting the line at Ol’Kalou Railway Station, assured local leaders and residents that save for exceptional situations, KRC will fully utilize indigenous labour and construction materials.
“Apart from the grass, this line is intact. Thanks for protecting it over the years,” he said.
The scope of works for the project entails track rehabilitation; ballast screening; geometry correction; drainage rehabilitation; track renewal (replacement of railway superstructure); ballasting; bridge and culvert repairs; alongside rehabilitation of station buildings and maintenance depots.
Current activity is being undertaken by both Nyandarua County Government and KRC in partnership with the Kazi Mtaani Project, following a request by Governor Kimemia to Principal Secretary for State Department of Housing and Urban Development, Mr. Charles Hinga.
400 youth from Nyandarua are involved.
Mr. Maingi, who announced that the rehabilitation will take four months, also pledged to work with Governor Kimemia on training local youth to serve the line as locomotive operators, engineers and hostesses.
Already, the County head has committed to provide 10 scholarships for interested youth.
The Thika-Nanyuki Branch Line is already in operation.
Nyahururu-Nanyuki-Isiolo and Nairobi-Murang’a-Embu SGR LAPSSET Link complete the collection of Central Kenya Railway projects.
The Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor Program, to which Nyandarua will ultimately be linked, is Eastern Africa’s largest and most ambitious infrastructure project.
Present during the colourful ceremony were His Excellency Deputy Governor (Dr.) Eric Korir (Nakuru County), who was representing His Excellency Governor Lee Kinyanjui and County Executive Committee Member for Infrastructure, Lands and Urban Development Hon. Shuel Joseph (Laikipia County), who was representing His Excellency Governor Nderitu Muriithi, among members of Nyandarua’s County Executive Committee, County Assembly and other senior National and County Government officials.