Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) Project is a $3.8 billion national flagship project in Kenya; the construction period for the project is 60 months with the defects liability period of 12 months. Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) is the Employer of the project while TSDI-APEC_EDON consortium are the consultants. The main length of the project is 480 km starting from the port of Mombasa and ending in Nairobi, while crossing 8 counties, namely, Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Taita Taveta, Makueni, Kajiado, Machakos and Nairobi.

Mombasa-Nairobi SGR project is the first long-distance overseas trunk line implemented by China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) in the form of an EPC integrating operation and maintenance. The SGR Project presented challenges of construction schedule, track laying, localization management, compliance, safety, quality, public security, civilized construction, and environmental protection. 

China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), one of the four large-scale, state-owned companies in China which pioneered the international construction market, mainly focuses on contracting of projects such as roads, bridges, ports, railways, airports, tunnels, water engineering projects, municipal works and dredging works both at home and abroad. With more than 50 branches and offices in over 50 countries and regions in Asia, Africa, Europe and America, CRBC has established an efficient and rapid operation, development and management network. Now, it is an important carrier, window and platform of overseas businesses of China Communications Construction Company Limited (CCCC), one of the world’s top 500 enterprises.

Growing out of the Foreign Aid Office of the Ministry of Communications of China, CRBC has been undertaking overseas projects aided and financed by the Chinese Government since 1958. In 1979, CRBC was formally established and entered the international project contracting market; and it became a wholly-owned subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company Limited after a major corporate restructuring in 2005. CRBC has successfully completed a number of highly acclaimed landmark projects, some of which have won domestic and international awards. CRBC, now a well-known brand in the international project contracting field, is enjoying a high reputation worldwide.

CRBC’s Office in Kenya was established in 1984. It is committed to the construction of large-scale infrastructures in Kenya including roads, bridges, ports and railways. In 30 years of operating in Kenya, it has consistently adhered to the concept of “pursuing excellence”, and built a series of demo projects, represented by the Northeast Ring Road of Nairobi、Mombasa Port , thus winning unanimous recognition of the local government and people.


Undertaking the SGR

Sophisticated technologies were adopted throughout the construction of Mombasa-Nairobi SGR Project.  The following areas were given great emphasis, technology, safety, quality and innovative procurement. In October 2013, a front command was established in Kenya while a back command was established in China for early­stage preparation for the Mombasa-Nairobi SGR Project. The Head Office of the Project organized experts to compile a number of construction schemes, conduct a comprehensive drill, identify potential risks, determine the centralized procurement and shipment mode for large equipment, and prepare bid documents after on­ site survey. Through the process and after analysis, many problems of the Mombasa-Nairobi SGR Project were solved quickly, which significantly reduced construction costs and laid the foundation for rapid advancement of the Project.

Based on their experience in railway  construction and management, and in line with local conditions CRBC formulated quality  management measures; quality assurance plan; administrative measures for Investigation and treatment of quality-related accidents; administrative measures for model works; administrative measures for testing  bridge  pile foundations; and administrative measures for information on concrete mixing stations. This was to provide institutional guarantee for comprehensive quality management.

Strict quality management

The Head Office comprehensively inspects the construction quality of each section twice a month, they note problems and recommend rectification within a limited period, they reward outstanding sections according to test results, and severely punishes sections with prominent problems.

Building “Sustainable Piers” with respect to Local Conditions

In view of the large temperature difference in the morning and evening in Kenya, and the dry climate in the dry season, CRBC innovated the pier water conservation method in order to avoid pier cracks. They put a bucket on the top of a pier to let water in the bucket infiltrate into the inside of the pier and keep humidity at a certain controlled limit, and tightly wrap the whole pier. This method can maintain the piers well, effectively extend their service life, and play some exemplary role for future maintenance of local piers.

Managing the environment sustainably

CRBC established a three-level (Head Office, Branch Offices, and Site Offices) responsibility management system. Pursuant to environmental laws, regulations and standards in Kenya and other countries as well as specific conditions of the Project, the Head Office formulated and issued a series of environmental management regulations including administrative measures for environmental protection, administrative measures for soil and water conservation, and administrative measures for environmental impact assessment.

CRBC carries out environmental inspections at all sections once a month to supervise the implementation of environmental protection measures, rectify any irrational behaviour in a timely manner, and standardize environmental management across the Project. They strictly observe environmental laws in Kenya. They conducted EIA of all aspects of land use for the SGR project, large temporary facilities, construction access roads, borrow pits, spoil ground, borehole drilling and water intaking, etc.  They started construction only after obtaining the EIA licenses issued by the National Environmental Management Authority.  They also engaged professional EIA consulting firms, and appointed a professional EIA engineer for each Site Office. Each professional EIA engineer is responsible for the full-cycle guidance from commencement to completion of the Project.

Focusing on green design

Green design a primary prerequisite to integrate the concept  of environmental protection into  project  operation. After meticulous research and rigorous study, full planning and careful consideration in the design phase, CRBC determined “environmental protection” as the premise and guidance of construction to ensure that the landscapes along the Railway are not destroyed, river water not polluted, and flora and fauna effectively protected.

Training of railway operation personnel

CRBC in conjunction with leading domestic universities and Railways Training Institute (RTI), have actively trained railway-operating personnel to provide sufficient railway operation personnel for operating the railway. CRBC has reached an understanding on training with a leading Chinese railway training institution, KRC and RTI on further development of Kenyans. Meanwhile, they are planning to build a comprehensive classroom building at RTI for the training of future railway operation technicians.

There are also development in establishment of a railway-engineering course by universities of China and Kenyan learning institutions. CRBC has held talks with KRC and the University of Nairobi, reaching a preliminary consensus that CRBC will aid the construction of a teaching building dedicated to railway education at the University of Nairobi. This will be launched with the help of a leading Chinese University. The Chinese Embassy in Kenya and the Economic and Commercial Counselor’s Office supported this plan.

Local subcontracting and cooperation

In the process of exploring cooperation with local subcontractors, CRBC has gradually formed a closed-loop cooperation mode featuring joint undertakings, business communication, and capacity training with local contractors.

CRBC has already cooperated with more than 150 local subcontractors. By collaborating with outstanding local subcontractors, they have not only driven forward local infrastructure markets and employment, but also provided facility for project construction.

Research on the track-laying and construction and the production technology of concrete sleeper

To better adapt to local realities,  CRBC research  has optimized the support  equipment for railway  track-laying through  this research on track laying technology. The technology has filled in the gap in Kenya. lt will not only support the subsequent railway construction in East Africa, but also help cultivate local technical personnel, strongly drive local employment and bring about huge social benefits.

Technical research on design and construction of 33kV overhead line for Mombasa-Nairobi Railway Project

Through the research, CRBC gradually optimized design and construction, improved project quality, and reduced costs. The research findings can be used not only in the power system of the Project, but also in other local railway power projects under construction or planning. The research has provided much reference for project operation in Africa.

Improving the technical standards 

The standards of cement and steel produced by local suppliers are lower than those of China and fall short of construction requirements. Through active communication with local cement and steel manufacturers and a series of relevant experiments, the local suppliers have upgraded their production lines and optimized their techniques.  This has resulted in improvements in their output and industrial processes. They have not only provided quality raw materials for the railway construction, but also found a ready market while boosting relevant industries in Kenya


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