Mombasa, KENYA: President Uhuru Kenyatta on Teusday evening flagged off the first Standard Gauge Railway cargo train at Port Reitz ,Mombasa.
The long awaited event was launched with fireworks dotting the historic event with the more than 500 guests, dignitaries and other Kenyan and Chinese officials cheering.
President Kenyatta waved a giant Kenyan flag to flag off the inaugural cargo train of the SGR shortly after 6.00 pm, marking a new era where cargo will be moved twice as fast and at a cheaper price.
Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho was however not present during the historic launch, the only governor from the Coast region present during the launch was Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya.
Speaking during the launch, President Uhuru called on all Kenyans to unite under this project and avoid putting politics into the project, adding that it will help even in the coming generations.
“This indicates what we can achieve if we work together as a nation. The foundation we are laying today is not just for us; it’s for generations to come,” he said.
Uhuru also called upon the opposition to unite with the government and asked Governor Joho to concentrate on justifying to residents why he should be re-elected.
“The Governor has been criticising our projects here at the Coast including SGR project. He should focus on completing at least one of his own projects said Uhuru,” the President said on Tuesday.
Present during the launch, Transport CS James Macharia said it took the government two and half years – less than the originally given time, to accomplish the task of constructing 472 kilometres of the SGR from Mombasa to the Nairobi.
“This is not the only project under the Jubilee government, there are 60 other projects in progress.” Said Macharia.
The Government has already embarked on extending the SGR to Naivasha then to Kisumu and eventually plans to have the system extended to Kampala and Kigali in Uganda and Rwanda respectively.
The project was built at a cost Sh327 billion with 90 percent financed by China Exim Bank with the Kenyan Government investing the rest.
Tuesday’s launch precedes the unveiling of the maiden passenger train from Mombasa to Nairobi on Wednesday morning.
On board will be President Kenyatta, Cabinet Secretaries and top government officials, media among others selected to take the maiden ride to Nairobi as well as 47 pupils from all the counties.