Chinese firm CRBC to operate new railway for ten years

The Mombasa terminus in Miritini.
The Mombasa terminus in Miritini. PHOTO/COURTESY
The Kenya Railways Corporation and the China Road and Bridge Corporation have signed an operations, maintenance and service agreement for the Mombasa-Nairobi standard gauge railway, which has seen the Chinese firm taking over as operator of the new transportation facility.

The deal, which was signed in Mombasa on May 30, will run for a period of ten years according to the Kenya Railways managing director Atanas Maina.

“CBRC’s key functions, will be to run the railway system in accordance with schedule of the agreement with KR and also to undertake maintenance of the equipment and rail tracks to ensure that they are maintained in accordance with the prescribed manuals as well as the best global industry standards,” Mr Maina told journalists in Mombasa.

CRBC is the contractor of the Sh327 billion standard gauge railway whose construction commenced in 2014. China’s Exim bank provided 90 per cent of the financing with Kenya meeting the balance. The new railway was launched on May 31.

The Kenya Railways will collect the revenues from the standard gauge railway and pay a fee to CRBC which will operate the railway.

According to Mr Maina, the Chinese firm was picked for the job to operate the new railway system due to its track record for past engagements.

“We conducted a due diligence on them and given that they also constructed the (standard gauge railway) we decided to work with them,” he said.

Mr Maina noted that under the guidance of CRBC, the standard gauge railway is expected to operate smoothly and cost effectively for the benefit of the Kenyan public as well as cargo owners.

READ: Jubilation as Kenya launches Sh327bn standard gauge railway

Under the agreement, CRBC will be mandated with transfer of Chinese technology to Kenya by way of training local youths who will be engaged in the running of the railway.

“CRBC has agreed on bringing on board locals, so that they learn from Chinese experts on the latest railway technology,” said the managing director.

The Chinese firm is expected to hire 1,000 Kenyans in various job positions, who will eventually take over the operations of the standard gauge railway after the expiry of the Kenya Railways-CRBC deal.