Kenya is sinking into more public debt with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s latest application to China’s Exim Bank to get sh370 billion for expansion of the Standard gauge railway from Naivasha to Kisumu.
The total cost of Jubilee’s biggest projects now stands at sh847 billion.
The new loan will fund a 270km-railway line between Naivasha and Kisumu. This will be the third phase of the project.
The first phase was between Mombasa and Nairobi. It gobbled up sh327 billion while the second phase, from Nairobi to Naivasha cost sh150 billion.
In a statement to the press in Beijing where Uhuru is attending a Trade conference, State House spokesperson Manoah Esipisu said, “the funding request will undergo normal procedure of approval and Premier Li (Keqiang) has promised to give it the adequate consideration and urgency it deserves.”
Esipisu remarked that once the railway line is completed upto Kisumu, Kenya’s neighbour will feel more inclined to take up a similar project as Daily Nation reports.
However, the news of the newly applied loan has not sat very well with opposition leaders.
They argue that it will burden Kenyan taxpayers even more.
As it stands now, with a population of over 45 million people, every Kenyan owes China’s Exim bank sh18, 000.
Kakamega Senator Dr. Bonny Khalwale argued that the cost of constructing the railway line is expensive compared to what has been used in building similar lines in other African countries.
Miguna Miguna added that in Ethiopia and Morocco, electric railway lines have been built at a cost less than what Kenya is spending in construction of the SGR.
He said with such huge amounts pumped into building Kenya’s SGR, it should be electric and not diesel powered.
But Transport ministry has brushed off the fear of over taxation citing that SGR train tariffs will adequately cover the cost of the loan, operating profit and public revenue without burdening the users.