Communities along SGR route start reaping benefits

CRBC on site: Residents of Kajiado are set to benefit from the Kiu and Ulu road being constructed by China Road and Bridge Corporation. The crucial road serves a huge population in Kajiado but has been rendered unusable due to layers of dust and gullies caused by floods as a result of the area’s erratic climate. (Image: Courtesy)

Communities living along the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) track are reaping indirect benefits as the contractor finalizes putting the construction infrastructure in place.

The China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) which has been contracted to construct the 472-kilometre modern rail from Mombasa to Nairobi has finished the construction of around 20 campsites where workers will be staying. The campsites that come complete with infrastructure such as water, sewerage and electricity will also store the equipment being used in the construction.

The railway will pass through six counties before culminating in Nairobi.

One such project is the ongoing construction of the road that connects the rural town of Kiu and Ulu in Kajiado. The crucial but currently impassable road serves a huge population in the area but has been rendered unusable due to layers of dust and gullies caused by floods as a result of the area’s erratic climate. CRBC has taken up the construction of the eight-kilometer stretch that will cost the company an estimated KES 10mn.

“The construction of this road is a big reprieve for thousands of people in this area. It will link pastoralists to markets while at the same time easing general transport in the area. It will completely open up this area. It is one among other areas that the local community is cooperating with CRBC even as we await the railway,” says Jonathan Koinanke, Area Chief Erankau sub-location of Kajiado East.

Nicholas Lorouke, a truck driver using the road says his sand business has witnessed significant growth since the construction of the road started.

“This road was in bad shape, trucks would get stuck in the dust and sometimes breakdown. However we thank CRBC for the great work they are doing. Villagers here can now go about their business undeterred about transport.

According to CRBC, several infrastructure and CSR projects are lined up to accompany the construction of the much anticipated railway line. Already, CRBC has donated construction materials and money to Molemuni Secondary School in Makueni for the construction new dormitories for students.

“As a company, community empowerment is at the centre of our operations across the world. We believe in positively transforming communities and leaving an impact everywhere we undertake projects,” says Xiang Mingsheng, Project Manager at No.5 Project Site Office of Nairobi-Mombasa SGR Project.

Already, CRBC has hired a number of local workers in readiness for the kick-off of the project. The company said it will give priority to locals for most of the work on the railway and only bring in Chinese expatriates in areas that require specialized skills.

“A number of our youths and various specialized workers have been hired from this community. It has greatly eased the economic situation in this area and we look forward to the commencement of the railway so that even more locals can get jobs,” said Koinanke.

The company that has promised to ensure maximum technology transfer has so far employed over 4000 Kenyans. The company expects the workforce to grow to a possible 30,000 at the peak of the construction expected to begin mid next month.

“Chinese workers already in the country have made efforts to improve the capacity of Kenyans so as to minimize the need for Chinese labour and maximise on local manpower,” said Xiang.