This is probably something most Kenyans have been waiting for. Six of the 56 diesel locomotives for operations of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) have been dispatched from China. The 4 passenger locomotives, (DF8B) and two shunters (DF7G) are expected to be in the country by January 31.
Kenya Railways had ordered 56 trains to operate on the standard gauge railway (SGR) ahead of the June 2017 completion of the Mombasa-Nairobi section.
According to Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, the SGR is expected to start operations in June 2017. The locomotives, which have generated a lot of criticism from Kenyans on social media were manufactured by CRRC Qishuyan, one of the major diesel locomotive makers in China. A quick online search reveals that the company was established in 1898.
The 4 passenger locomotives (DF8B) locomotives, according to the company website is a new generation of heavy-haul freight diesel locomotive with the largest single-unit power, advanced electrical control technology, and excellent dynamic performance so far in China. The company further says that the locomotive adopts microcomputer control system, big screen color LCD and resistance braking device with full power self-load test functions.
The two Shunters (DF7G) locomotives, on the other hand, are said to employs microcomputer control system and dynamic braking equipment.
The Transport Cabinet secretary says “They (CRRC) have ensured that speedy manufacture of the locomotives is as per the quality prescribed,”. He further added that the government was confident that the operator will ensure that both the infrastructure and the equipment are maintained to the best global standards.
The Ministry says the construction of the first phase of the SGR is 98 per cent complete with works for phase 2A expected to start in the first quarter of 2017. The first phase (Mombasa-Nairobi line) is said to have cost Sh327 billion.
Once the line is complete, the government is also set to sign a five-year contract with CRBC’s parent company, China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) to operate it.
The SGR operations are expected to see reduced business for truckers and bus companies with the trains set to remove thousands of trucks and buses from the Mombasa- Nairobi road. The transport CS also says the commencement of the SGR operations will reduce the number of accidents caused by trucks on our roads.