A new rail project in Kenya faces further delays after the country failed to ink a KSh16 billion financial deal with France. The project entails constructing a railway line linking Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to Nairobi’s city centre and constructing a five-kilometre metre-gauge line connecting JKIA to standard-gauge rail (SGR) terminus in Syokimau.
This means that the rail project, whose construction was initially set for August following a deal agreed between French President Emanuel Macron and President Uhuru Kenyatta in March 2019, faces further delays.
In addition to the rail project, the loan was also to aid the revamp of the old 17-kilometre railway track that links to the SGR line at Syokimau, construction of two airport stations, a terminal at Donholm, and an automatic fare collection system.
On the other hand, China has provided nearly Sh500 billion in loans to construct the SGR line from Mombasa to Nairobi. However, just recently, China froze the disbursements of loans to Kenya, citing discomfort over Kenya’s request to extend the debt repayment holiday to December from an earlier deadline of June. The country is one of Kenya’s biggest foreign creditors, having lent KSh758 billion as of April 2021 to build rail lines, roads and other infrastructure projects in the past decade.