Hiring to start on Nairobi-Mombasa rail line

Chinese company seeks 30,000 employees for project

Construction of the 610-km Nairobi-Mombasa railway line could start soon, on what is being described as the most ambitious infrastructure project undertaken in Kenya since the original train line between the Kenyan capital and its main sea port was built over a century ago.

The new standard guage railway line connecting the two Kenyan cities will cost $3.6bn, of which 90 per cent is being provided in a loan from China Exim Bank. The China Road and Bridge Corporation firm in charge of building the project is hiring 30,000 staff in Kenya, including engineers and labourers, many of whom it says will find employment in industries relating to the operation of the line on completion in three and a half year's time.

The project was due to start over a year ago, when Kenyan leader Uhuru Kenyatta laid the foundation stone in Mombasa in November 2013. However construction work was delayed following a series of court cases over land disputes relating to compulsory purchase.

Recently the Kenyan government released $88 million to compensate landowners whose properties will be required by the train project.

Kenyatta has said that the new railway will reduce transportation costs signficantly and save time travelling. He had said the new link should cut the cost of sending a ton of freight one km from 20 US cents to eight. Currently, passenger trains take at least eight hours between Nairobi and Mombasa. The new railway will reducing travel time to 4.5 hours.