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The second phase of a multibillion-dollar railway in Kenya funded and built by China opened to passenger traffic on Thursday to little fanfare but amid growing concerns about its financial viability.
The 120km (75-mile) section was built at a cost of US$1.5 billion and runs from the capital Nairobi to Naivasha, a town in the Central Rift Valley.
When the US$3.2 billion first phase of the line, which runs 470km from the seaport of Mombasa to Nairobi, opened in 2017, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was joined at an official launch ceremony by
Chinese President Xi Jinping
’s special envoy State Councillor Wang Yong.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta waves to passengers on the opening day of the new rail line. Photo: AFP
But there was no such pomp on Wednesday when Kenyatta and other local officials were joined only by Wu Peng, China’s ambassador to Kenya, for a maiden ride on the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), as it is formally known.
The president did use the opportunity, however, to hit back at those who have described the project as a
, insisting it would bring huge economic benefits to the country.
“Without infrastructure, there will be no investors. Without investors, there will be no jobs for our youth,” he said.
This article first appeared on www.scmp.com
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