Milestones reached since the railway construction started in January include the clearing of 385km of the railway corridor and establishment of railway sleepers and T-beam factories in Kathekani and Emali. China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) has made huge progress on the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), four months since the project officially kicked off on 12th December, 2014.
The firm says it has cleared 385km of the SGR corridor out of 472km of the entire SGR line. It has further built 443km access roads that will facilitate construction of the railway line.
CRBC has also built 40.24km of railway subgrade while its subsidiary works have started. Some 5,948 linear metres of railway bridges have been completed with 875 piles, 154 foundations, 70 bearing platforms and 111 piers and abutments in place. And construction of 266 slab culverts and two frame culverts has started.
Another major milestone has been the operationalisation of two factories for the production of railway sleepers and T-beams at Kathekani (close to Mtito Andei) and Emali. The two facilities have so far produced 105,250 sleepers and 148 T-beams, which are key materials in the construction of the railway. Each factory has the capacity to produce 1.5 beams a day (three beams are produced every two days) each weighing 120 tonnes and 1 000 sleepers a day.
“Since last December when the SGR project officially started, we have made a lot of progress on the project and we are on course to complete it on time,” said Julius Li, CRBC Manager for External Relations and Cooperation for the SGR project.
He spoke on Wednesday during a media tour to different railway construction sites including the factory in Kathekani. This has demonstrated the ability of CRBC to carry out major infrastructure projects in such a short period with all personnel, materials and equipment mobilised to site for prompt launch of construction, which offers hope to deliver the flagship project on time.
The two facilities are employing over 1,000 employees each, many of whom have been trained on different aspects of production of railway building materials. The factories will remain operational upon project completion and will be used for the production of railway consumables.
Kenya Railways Managing Director Atanas Maina said the railway contractor had programmes in place to increase the capacity of employees working on the project. He expects the knowledge transfer to come in handy after the project is complete, with Kenyan employees working on the project expected to play a critical role in the running and management of the new railway.
Mr Maina said Kenyans currently involved in the Mombasa-Nairobi SGR project will reduce reliance on expatriate labour in the subsequent phases of construction. There are plans to extend the new railway line to Malaba and further into Uganda and Rwanda. “ The people who have been involved in this project will be critical in other phases of the Standard Gauge Railway,” said Mr Maina.
The number of employees recruited for the construction of the railway has gone up, with priority being given to people from the counties along the railway route. The number of employees for the project now stands at about 10,000 and on course to hit the expected 30,000 at the peak of the project.
According to the company, 65 percent of the people engaged are from the local counties and more than 20 percent are women. As part of their perks, CRBC offers house and transport allowances on a monthly basis. This is in addition to their salaries being higher than the average pay in the construction industry.
“CRBC has observed the principle of sourcing staff from the local villages and towns first and in the nearby villages and towns thereafter during its employment process,” said Li. “We have engaged a major labour union to ensure all the payment and benefits of our employees together with employee representative committee to guarantee their rights and benefits.”