SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY HON. UHURU KENYATTA, C.G.H., PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA AND COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE DEFENCE FORCES DURING THE LAUNCH OF COMMENCEMENT OF SGR FREIGHT SERVICES FROM NAIROBI TO NAIVASHA AT THE NAIROBI TERMINUS ON 17TH DECEMBER, 2019  

On December 17, 2019 In Latest News

Special Envoy of the Government of the People’s Republic of China, His Excellency Wang Yong,

Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, His Excellency Wu Peng,

Chairman, China Communications Construction Company, Mr. Liu Qitao,

Fellow Kenyans,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today is another momentous day; a day when we add yet another brick in our quest to build a stronger foundation for our current and future prosperity.

Today, we mark the commencement of the freight train services to the Naivasha Inland Container Depot (ICD); thus making an unequivocal statement that we, as a people, are ready to ascend!

Fellow Kenyans,

As we usher in a new chapter in our national development, we have the honour of the presence of the Special Envoy of the Government of the People’s Republic of China - His Excellency Wang Yong; accompanied by the Ambassador of the People`s Republic of China - His Excellency Wu Peng; and the Chairman, China Communications Construction Company - Mr. Liu Qitao.

Excellency Yong, and your team, we say to you: “Asante Sana na Karibuni Kenya.”

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Less than two months ago, we commissioned the operation of the passenger services along the same route.  To date, the Madaraka Express has moved more than 10,000 passengers; with demand significantly outstripping our carrying capacity.

The demand for SGR services along this section in particular, which is part of the greater MombasaNairobi-Kisumu/Malaba Standard Gauge Railway Project, is a clear demonstration that we need more capacity and more modern and efficient transport infrastructure, to support investors in our Country and across the entire East African Region.  

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As we mark this most auspicious occasion, we should bear in mind that for over a century, Kenya was unable to expand the railway network due to the inability of our Nation to meet the enormous capital costs.  From the beginning of my Administration, we prioritized addressing this historical under-investment in our Railway Network.

Going forward, and as we mark the completion of the Naivasha Inland Container Depot (ICD) and the commencement of the freight operations to Naivasha, it is our expectation that these new transport infrastructure facilities will significantly support and provide anchorage, for the development of Naivasha Industrial Park. We equally remain hopeful other economic and commercial ventures will be established along the line, which together will trigger creation of productive employment; and in the process reduce poverty and inequality across the whole country.

During the launch of the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway Project on November 28, 2013 in Mombasa, I said that as a Government, we are fully aware that sound and functional infrastructure is a critical requirement in attaining and sustaining socio-economic development for any Nation.

It was against this understanding that we set out to construct a high capacity, high speed Standard Gauge Railway network for Kenya; incorporating the expansion of the Nairobi Inland Container Depot and construction of the Naivasha Inland Container Depot.  Our aim was and still is, to provide a fast, safe and efficient transport solution that would transform the course of development for Kenya and the East African Region.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The focus should, therefore, not only be on developing railway infrastructure solely for Kenya's transportation and logistics needs, but also on creating linkages across Eastern and Central Africa.  This is important as it will allow for the seamless movement of Goods and Persons across borders; and, with that, the unlocking of our greater full potential

I am encouraged to note that the operations of the Madaraka Express Passenger and Freight Services have been an enabler to each of the pillars of the Big Four Agenda.

The fast and efficient mass-movement of Persons and Goods is a prerequisite to the achievement of economic growth and prosperity. Rapid bulk transportation of building materials is necessary for the accelerated construction of Affordable Housing; speedy bulk distribution of agricultural output underpins Food Security; the inputs and outputs of Manufacturing must be more expeditiously and efficiently transported; and our plans for Universal Health Coverage are boosted by greater connections between our cities and towns.

With this in mind, I wish to reassure all Kenyans that the significant investments in the SGR Project are worthwhile in the short, medium and long-term.  Indeed, SGR is a vital component for the realization of the Kenya Vision 2030, the Big Four Agenda and our quest to spread the fruits of our Prosperity to every corner of our Republic.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We recognize that transport and logistics are a key prerequisite for economic growth within this Region and the African Continent.

Transport and Logistics provide unique opportunities in building, financing, or providing support services.  I urge local and foreign investors to align their focus and thinking towards taking full advantage of these opportunities.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

My Administration has lived up to the ideals of this journey. We have placed development of infrastructure at the forefront of our agenda; and today many Kenyans can testify that, indeed, the fruits of our drive to provide vital infrastructure necessary to improve the welfare of Kenyans; is bearing fruits.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Madaraka Express Freight Services has formed an important part of the transport and logistics chain in Kenya and the region.  Overall service delivery has improved significantly as witnessed through a decongested Mombasa Port, reduced transit times for freight transportation and enhanced security of transit cargo.

The Madaraka Express Service Trains and activities at the Nairobi Inland Container Depot, has facilitated handling of over 6.8 million tonnes of cargo between Mombasa and Nairobi.  Despite this impressive performance, it is not lost on us that, as a Government, we need to continually build infrastructure that will enhance our cargo handling capacity so as to accommodate the ever-increasing trade volumes and complement the Madaraka Express Freight Service. 

This is why we have expanded the road network across the country to provide seamless connectivity.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The launch operations of the Naivasha Inland Container Depot, is a step in the right direction, since this facility helps our Nation accomplish two key objectives.  First, we have improved hinterland connectivity and thus taken cargo closer to all Kenyans.

From the Port of Mombasa, cargo destined for the Western region of the country and transit cargo to our neighbors – Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo, will be delivered through the Naivasha Inland Container Depot.

The Naivasha Inland Container Depot also boosts our cargo handling capacity and, therefore, will not only help relieve pressure on the Port of Mombasa and the Nairobi Inland Container Depot, but will also take the cargo closer to Uganda and South Sudan by a further 120 Kilometres from Nairobi.

Secondly, this strategic development is a clear demonstration that the Standard Gauge Railway is a game changer in supporting development of industrial parks, logistics and commercial hubs, and special economic zones; which will attract further foreign investments and enable us to do greater business with our neighbors in Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and the entire continent.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

To further enhance efficient transport and logistics network to Kisumu and Malaba, my Administration will soon commence works on the restoration of the Metre Gauge Railway network from Maai Mahiu through Longonot to Kisumu and Malaba.  Together, all these initiatives will improve, in a significant way, Kenya’s position in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index and therefore making our country the investment destination of choice.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As I move to launch the commencement of the freight train operations to Naivasha ICD, let me assure you of my commitment to delivering on all that my Administration has promised to do. I take this opportunity, to thank you all and to also appreciate our partners, especially the Government and the People of the People’s Republic of China, for their partnership towards the realization of this seminal project.

Asante Sana; God bless You and God bless Kenya.

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