Kenya began construction on the Chinese funded standard gauge railway project on Wednesday. The new rail line is intended to dramatically increase trade and boost the country's position as a regional economic powerhouse.
The key transport link, to run from the busy port city of Mombasa inland to the highland capital Nairobi, is eventually hoped to extend onwards to Uganda, and then connect with proposed lines to Rwanda and South Sudan.
Thursday's launch marked the commencement of the first phase of the project, comprising the Mombasa-Nairobi segment that covers 500km.
Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony in Mombasa, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta says the new rail will reduce transportation cost to all East African destinations.
"Upon completion of the standard gauge railway, transport costs in the region will reduce by more than 60 percent," Kenyatta said.
"This is the reason why we must view the substantial investment in the railway as a worthy investment to underpin the regional economic agenda. An economy only ever thrives on the foundation of proper infrastructure," he added.
The Chinese Ambassador to Kenya, Liu Guangyuan, said that Kenya is stepping forward and the project will be a landmark for both Kenya and the East Africa. "China has the technology and capability to handle the project and will offer the best service in constructing the standard gauge railway," Liu said.
The Mombasa-Nairobi railway line is to be constructed by China Road and Bridge Corporation and it is expected to be operational by 2018.
Source - english.cri.cn