Monday, December 9, 2013
By DAVE OPIYOAuthor Profile
A new commuter railway station was Monday launched in Nairobi’s Eastlands area even as Kenya Railways expressed concern that the construction of 24 others might delay due to lack of funds.
Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga launched the Sh400 million Makadara Railway Station that is expected to ease traffic congestion for commuters plying Jogoo Road and its surrounding areas.
The facility is anticipated to serve at least 5,000 commuters mostly from Hamza, Donholm, BuruBuru and Umoja and other nearby areas.
It has a parking capacity for about 150 vehicles.
Concerns over other stations
But even as the station was being inaugurated, concerns were being raised as to when the construction of the remaining stations in other parts of the Nairobi metropolis would begin.
Besides the Syokimau Railway Station, the government is to construct 26 others within the city, two of which have already been completed.
They include the one in Makadara and another in Imara Daima, which is to be launched Wednesday by retired President Daniel arap Moi.
Gen (Rtd) Jeremiah Kianga, the chair of the Kenya Railways board of directors, however said they were already in talks with the government to see whether more funds could be allocated for the projects.
“Once we get the funds, the work will be completed within the next two to three years,” said Kianga.
Mr Odinga praised the construction of the Makadara station, saying it will attract business to the country.
“Today, the lack of efficient public transport has left the Nairobi Central Business District perpetually clogged in traffic.
Subsequently, too few people want to venture into the CBD for shopping. Traffic chaos is killing business in Nairobi,” said Mr Odinga.
Mr Odinga said Nairobi’s potential is being crippled by lack of adequate infrastructure.
“It has overcrowded roads, rising population, much pollution and a congested airport,” he said.
And while this has been happening, other cities in the region have been investing in urban infrastructure renewal.
“We must change urgently. If we don’t invest in making Nairobi a livable city, where the cost of living, working and doing business are low, we will soon be talking of a Nairobi that once was the hub of the region but no longer is,” Odinga said.
“We live in extremely competitive and dynamic times. Nations and cities slide up and down rankings with a single wrong step.
We must never underestimate the determination of our neighbours to take over the functions currently associated with Kenya.”
Mr Odinga said even as the government invests heavily in the construction of infrastructure, it must do the same in their maintenance.
“Our biggest curse in Africa is the inability to maintain what we have started,” he said.
Transport Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau concurred with the former PM saying development in the country will only be realised when the country’s infrastructure is sound.
Passenger numbers to grow
Nairobi Commuter Rail Project was launched on November 13, 2012 and is being implemented in phases.
On completion, passenger numbers are expected to grow by seven per cent annually which translates to 20 million travellers a year from the current seven million.
The Makadara station will be plying Eastlands areas and will be served by the Syokimau Railway Station.