Train services from Mombasa to Kisumu are expected to be fully operational within the next one month.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party leader Raila Odinga will take the first symbolic trip in April. Mr Peter Odoyo, the chief administrative secretary in the Ministry of Defence, said the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) is almost through with the refurbishment of the 216-kilometre Nakuru-Kisumu meter gauge railway line.
The rehabilitation has cost Sh3.7 billion. Mr Odoyo said KDF will hand over the project to Kenya Railway Corporation in 10 days: "Over the next 10 days, we will be checking and repairing bridges and hopefully by April Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga will officially open the Nakuru-Kisumu railway line," he disclosed during an inspection tour of the project. The line has 17 stations but the railway operations on the branch ceased upon granting of the concessionaire (RVR) in 2008.
The revival of the old line will help various counties, which are establishing economic blocs, to easily transport their goods thereby boosting industries and agriculture.
The Nakuru-Kisumu line links to the Kisumu Port, whose original concept was pegged on the standard gauge railway reaching the lakeside city with cargo from Mombasa. Last week, tens of workers stationed at different points of the railway line were undertaking repairs from Kisumu Port to Miwani, Chemelil, Muhoroni and Fort Ternan.
Mr Mwalimu Disi, the operations manager at Kenya Railways Corporation, said that, once KDF hands over the line, KRC will undertake final touches in vandalised areas. This will be complete in a month.
"At the beginning of April, we shall have finished the repairs so that we carry out trials on the railway line to give way for full operations to resume including the Kisumu Port," said Mr Disi.
He said he expected cargo haulage to go up, which will create a demand for cargo handling facilities. He maintained that the Nakur- Kisumu line is the shorter route to Uganda and beyond compared to the Malaba line.
To date, MV Uhuru has done 42 round trips to the neighbouring countries transporting more than 42 million liters of fuel products. The corporation has about 160 students in the Marine School studying various courses in readiness to start work at the Kisumu Port.
Mr Odoyo revealed that the Kenya Navy is currently building a 700,000-tonne ship, which will transport cargo and passengers to Uganda and Tanzania.
"Hopefully by August, we shall take a trial voyage to Sori towards Tanzania on board the ship," Mr Odoyo said. The ship will cost about Sh200 million. A newly imported ship would have cost the government Sh700 million.