Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta opened a new $1.5 billion Chinese-funded and built rail line on Wednesday, linking the capital Nairobi to the Rift Valley town of Naivasha.
This is the extension of the line which starts in Mombasa and is expected to link Kenya and neighbouring Uganda.
Kenyatta defended the construction of the expensive railways, saying it will eventually create jobs and change lives. Sceptics have questioned its economic viability.
The idea is to link the East African region through rail under the ambitious project by the Chinese government dubbed “One Belt, One Road” initiative.
The railway is, however, faced with hiccups after the Chinese government withheld $4.9 billion in funding which Kenya needed to complete the project to the Ugandan border town of Malaba.
The entire line is not complete and now sceptics have dubbed it the “Rail to Nowhere,” enraging Kenyatta who sees this as one of his legacy projects.
Without the Chinese funding, the Kenyan government now plans to upgrade the more than 100 year old British Built metre gauge line and connect it to the new line.
There are plans for a special economic zone in the Rift Valley town of Naivasha which is expected to make the yet to be launched freight service attractive.