President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday inspected the Nairobi-Mombasa standard gauge railway project being constructed by China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) at Sultan Hamud in Makueni County on 28th May. The President had site meeting at the CRBC construction camp during which he was briefed on project progress and its challenges.
Significant progress has been made since the start of the SGR project in November 2014. Some 97 percent of civil works, 95 percent of the bridge substructures and 98% of the culverts have been completed. The track laying and girder erection is currently underway as 276 kilometres of track has been laid and 356 spans of T-beams have been erected, accounting for 58.32% and 45.35% of the project progress respectively. Railway stations, signalling equipment, communications systems and electricity are going on as scheduled. The entire Project is within the 65 percent completion mark.
The project has created employment opportunities for Kenyan accounting for over 19,223 jobs. This represents 90 percent of the total staff in CRBC’s payroll. Many more jobs have been created indirectly as a result of the development.
CRBC has made significant investment in technical training of local personnel working at the project. Over 5,000 local technicians has been trained as testers, surveyors and mechanics. Training of railway technicians who will operate the SGR line have also commenced. Ten lecturers from the Kenya’s Railway Training Institute underwent training at Southwest Jiaotong University in China in mid-March 2016 and have returned into the country after completing the short-term training. A similar number of lecturers from China recently come to Kenya to conduct railway engineering training to locals. The initial training programme in Kenya comprises of three courses namely, locomotive maintenance, signalling, and transport attracting some 100 Kenyan trainees. Besides the plans, CRBC proposes to partner with Kenya Railways in building a technical college to harness transport construction knowhow within Kenya and other East African countries.
“What CRBC is offering is much more than the railway hardware. We are passing knowledge and skills that will help in the design, construction and operation of the
SGR,” said Steven Zhao, the manager for External Relation and Cooperation Department of SGR Project.
As part of the local content arrangement, local firms have also benefited from the project.
CRBC has so far signed agreements with 934 local material and equipment suppliers, and service providers and engaged another 212 local subcontractors in the project.
“We adhere to tenets that not only embrace and enhance our commercial interests but also those that
Forge and bolster partnerships on mutual values and shared objectives’, the manager reiterated.
Meanwhile, the first ever Corporate Social Responsibility Report by CRBC on the SGR Project was launched in Nairobi March. The Report comprehensively catalogues all the signature projects by the railway builder. The report has also documented the role of CRBC in fostering deeper involvement and engagement with the communities residing along the SGR corridor in a mutual and beneficial manner. The strategy not only promotes friendship but understanding of the railway builder’s needs and role.
This year alone, CRBC has undertaken over 200 corporate social investment programmes among communities residing along the railway corridor. They include, drilling of boreholes, donations to local schools, road rescues, community road repairs, wildlife protection, and participated in environmental protection events that have benefited some 12,000 Kenyans.