President Uhuru Kenyatta today said a commuter rail line that will connect the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and the Central Business District should be ready in two years time.
Speaking after touring the Nairobi Central Railway Station in the company of French President Emmanuel Macron, President Kenyatta said bureaucracy and Government red-tape should not delay the project.
The Nairobi Airport Line is aimed at easing movement between the city centre and JKIA, East and Central Africa’s biggest airport and transport hub.
He said officials should fast track agreements so that the project is completed within the next two years.
The commuter rail project will be implemented in partnership with a French Consortium.
President Kenyatta said the commuter rail and Rapid Bus Transit system planned for the city will support the government’s focus on decongesting the Nairobi Metropolis and, once completed, will greatly reduce travel time between JKIA and the city centre.
“A properly functioning urban commuter rail system and Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT) in our cities and particularly here in Nairobi will completely transform the lives of millions of urban dwellers as well as make Nairobi a wonderful experience for tourists and visitors,” said the President.
He said the Government has prioritised the development of the urban commuter rail and the BRT to reduce traffic congestions and boost the economy of the city.
“Our target is to have 500,000 urban commuters moving freely daily within the next 12 months. This number will grow to over a million commuters daily within the next five years,” said the President.
The Head of State thanked the French partnership in the development of the commuter rail, saying that Kenya becomes stronger when it diversifies its partners.
Besides the link between the city and the airport, the government has already embarked on a refurbishment of the whole commuter rail system in the city.
As part of this commuter railway improvement, the Government has approved KSh 10 billion for the rehabilitation of four existing lines with the heaviest passenger-carrying potential. These are Nairobi Central Station to Ruiru; Nairobi Central Station to Embakasi Village; Nairobi Central Station to Kikuyu; and Nairobi Central Station to Kitengela.
The investment also provides for the acquisition of refurbished Diesel Multiple Units (DMU’s) and the rehabilitation of the meter gauge railway network and the development of new stations as well as the building a public transport network that straddles from Ruiru to Athi River.
On his part, President Macron said the French Consortium will play its part in providing a mobility solution for Nairobi.
President Macron, who is in Kenya for the first State visit by a French President said he was happy with the increasing partnership between Kenya and France. He said it was an indication of the future of Africa, which he said is led by innovation and is not relying on the beaten paths in terms of achieving development.
The French leader said France will deepen its partnership with Kenya in security, health and education.
He said Kenya and France will sign deals worth three billion Euros during his visit.
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia also spoke at the function.