Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has officially opened a 472km Standard Gauge Railway line linking the capital city Nairobi with the port city of Mombasa.
Dubbed the Madaraka (Freedom) Express, the train can carry 1,260 passengers and replaces the creaking colonial-era rail line, which was built more than a century ago. The upgrade will halve the transit time from the two economic hubs from 16 hours to around 8 hours, and will reduce the cost of travel for all customers, according to the president.
“The drop in cost of freight and fares will make Kenya a more attractive investment destination. More investors will lead to more jobs and growth in our economy,” he said during a ceremony late on Tuesday.The $3.6bn project, which took four years to complete, was funded through a loan from the China Eximbank and built by China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC).
It is estimated that 46,000 jobs were created during the construction, according to the Chinese firm. The route within Kenya is just the first phase of a planned four-country network intended to provide high-capacity and cost-effective passenger and freight links between Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan.