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Chinese-funded railway to create jobs, boost economy: Kenyan president

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-05-28 10:54

NAIROBI - The Chinese-funded Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) will boost Kenya's economy and create job opportunities for the youth, said Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Kenyatta made the remarks while leading senior government officials on an inspection tour on Tuesday to ascertain progress in the implementation of the SGR project.

The tour, his second one since the kick-off of the railway construction in January this year, reaffirmed the government's commitment to implement the railway project on schedule.

"The Standard Railway Project will reduce the cost of transport from Nairobi to Mombasa by half. It will boost the economy and create job opportunities for the youth," Kenyatta said.

He spoke at a public rally in Southeast Kenya's Voi town after inspecting the two km-long Tsavo River Super Bridge that overruns Kenya's largest wildlife sanctuary, Tsavo National Park.

The bridge has 59 pillars, which aim to minimize disruption to wildlife movement once the Standard Gauge Railway gets operational.

During his inspection, Kenyatta met China Road and Bridge Corporation's (CRBC) senior executives, the railway's Chinese contractor, who briefed him on the progress of implementing the railway project.

Kenyatta said his government will not back-track on implementing the $3.8 billion railway project that will transform regional economies.

"The government will facilitate investors to establish industrial parks along towns adjacent to the railway line," said the president.

Besides unleashing job opportunities for Kenyans, the railway will also boost regional integration through trade in goods and services.

Kenya Railways Corporation Managing Director Atanas Maina said the modern railway line will boost Kenya's GDP by 1.5 percent.

"We anticipate spin-off effects like creation of 30,000 jobs and skill transfer during the implementation of the first phase of the Standard Gauge Railway project," Maina told reporters, adding that the railway project will minimize congestion along the Mombasa-Nairobi highway alongside pollution from heavy commercial vehicles.

Kenyan technicians involved in the construction of Standard Gauge Railway are also gaining from skill transfer.

Julius Li, External Resources Manager of CRBC, said Kenyan workers have acquired technical skills that will secure them gainful employment even after the railway project is completed in 2017.

"We have an elaborate training program for Kenyan employees. They are awarded a certificate after the training to enable them remain relevant in the job market after the Standard Gauge Railway project is over," Li told Xinhua, adding that they have trained over 1,000 Kenyan employees on railway technology and operation skills.

Currently, the Chinese company has employed 10,889 Kenyans working at different sites along the 480 km-long railway connecting Kenya's coastal city Mombasa and capital Nairobi.

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