21 May 2019

Kenya: Chinese Envoy Says SGR Funding Wasn't Part of Kenya Agenda

Photo: Kevin Odit/Daily Nation
A standard gauge railway cargo train departs from Mombasa port on May 30, 2019.

Nairobi — Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Wu Peng says that funding for the Standard Railway Gauge line to Kisumu was not part of the agenda during President Uhuru Kenyatta's recent visit to China.

This comes amid speculation that President Kenyatta and NASA leader Raila Odinga had gone to China to seek funding to have the SGR extended to Kisumu, but didn't succeed in securing the funds.

Ambassador Wu however said that President Kenyatta and his counterpart Xi Jinping discussed the planned construction of an industrial park in Naivasha and economic zone in Mombasa.

"I can confirm that funding for Naivasha-Kisumu SGR was not on the agenda of the two Presidents' meeting in Beijing. The Government of Kenya is now focusing on operations of the Mombasa-Nairobi SGR to maximise its overall effects which I believe is a very smart and responsible decision," he said.

The ambassador said that China respects the Kenya Government's decision when to start Naivasha-Kisumu SGR line.

He further assured of China's commitment to working closely with Kenyan Government in undertaking infrastructure projects based on economic viability.

"Indeed, Rome was not built in a day. China supports Kenya's efforts to improve her infrastructural connectivity, which is key to the country's economic development," he added.

State House Chief of Staff Nzioka Waita through a tweet had also said that extension of the rail network to Kisumu was not part of the President's agenda, adding that reports that he failed to secure the funding were misleading and incorrect.

NASA leader and AU envoy on infrastructure Raila Odinga who accompanied President Kenyatta had indicated that the extension of the SGR would form part of the agenda, he had also announced during a public gathering that the construction of Naivasha-Kisumu segment would commence next year.

Although no clear timeline had been set by the government for the commencement of work on the Naivasha-Kisumu rail, it emerged that the government was putting on hold the construction of the line linking Naivasha to the lakeside city of Kisumu.

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