Chinese charged over Kenya 'railway scam'

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Chinese charged over Kenya 'railway scam'

Postby David Benton » Sun Dec 02, 2018 3:24 am

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-46341910
More interesting to me for the map and video of the system .
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Re: Chinese charged over Kenya 'railway scam'

Postby george matthews » Sun Dec 02, 2018 10:33 am

I think the 'map' should be treated with scepticism. Unless there is a plan to build the lines it is fantasy such as one used to draw in the classroom when otherwise bored. The most important next step will be to build lines to Kampala and Kisumu. There is probably some potential for traffic on these - though whether there is enough to make the new lines pay is a question. As there wasn't any traffic on the previous metre gauge lines to the Congo border it is a speculation about whether there would be any for a Standard Gauge line. Traffic probably won't arise until there is peace in that region. I doubt if the Chinese can bring that about any more than anyone else. I'm sorry to be so negative. The evidence that the Chinese are running some petty scams is very disappointing but not a surprise given their behaviour on the line from Zambia to Dar es Salaam.
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Re: Chinese charged over Kenya 'railway scam'

Postby johnthefireman » Sun Dec 02, 2018 12:47 pm

george matthews wrote:I think the 'map' should be treated with scepticism


I can confirm that the Nairobi to Mombasa line is open - in fact my wife travelled on it today.

I can also confirm that the line west of Nairobi is well underway. We live near Rongai, which is marked on the map, and there is a lot of evidence of construction - tall concrete pillars, road traffic held up while massive girders are moved into place, etc. There will be some impressive viaducts, as there are on the Mombasa standard gauge line. The alignment is pretty complete across the Nairobi National Park as far as Rongai. From the Southern By-Pass and from one of the hotels which overlooks the park I was able to watch the Chinese machine laying the prefabricated girders from pillar to pillar, a fascinating process.

The line from Lamu to Juba, which I think is the LAPSETT project, seems to be having funding problems, and the line to Kigali is by no means certain as Rwanda seems to favour a different standard gauge line to the coast via Tanzania.
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Re: Chinese charged over Kenya 'railway scam'

Postby rhallock » Tue Dec 04, 2018 5:32 pm

A tunnel on the line west of Nairobi has been holed through in Sept. this year. https://www.railjournal.com/africa/firs ... d-through/ In nearby Uganda, a line which has been out of service since 1993 is to be refurbished. https://www.railjournal.com/africa/ugan ... -eu-grant/
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Re: Chinese charged over Kenya 'railway scam'

Postby johnthefireman » Wed Dec 05, 2018 12:47 am

rhallock wrote:In nearby Uganda, a line which has been out of service since 1993 is to be refurbished


Yes, very interesting that they have chosen to refurbish the old metre gauge rather than take the standard gauge up to Gulu and beyond. Last time I looked at that line was around 1997 when I travelled by road through Pakwach (beyond Gulu, the terminus of that line). The railway was already out of use by then, and looking pretty neglected. Of course that was the height of Lord's Resistance Army activity in the area, so all land and river traffic was dangerous - we passed several newly burned out buses on the road, saw frequent army patrols, and were delayed leaving one morning because we had to wait for the demining patrol to go out first. Northern Uganda is very different nowadays.
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Re: Chinese charged over Kenya 'railway scam'

Postby george matthews » Wed Dec 05, 2018 12:50 pm

johnthefireman wrote:
rhallock wrote:In nearby Uganda, a line which has been out of service since 1993 is to be refurbished


Yes, very interesting that they have chosen to refurbish the old metre gauge rather than take the standard gauge up to Gulu and beyond. Last time I looked at that line was around 1997 when I travelled by road through Pakwach (beyond Gulu, the terminus of that line). The railway was already out of use by then, and looking pretty neglected. Of course that was the height of Lord's Resistance Army activity in the area, so all land and river traffic was dangerous - we passed several newly burned out buses on the road, saw frequent army patrols, and were delayed leaving one morning because we had to wait for the demining patrol to go out first. Northern Uganda is very different nowadays.

That northern line was built during the time of Milton Obote, who was a Nilotic man from that area. The British had declined to build it on the grounds that no probable traffic could be detected, and that proved to be the case. I remember when it was inaugurated with a great deal of fanfare in 1966. As for passenger traffic only third class trains were provided. I suspect that even if it is replaced by a Standard Gauge line no traffic would develop. Even if it were extended into South Sudan I doubt if there would be enough traffic to justify it. The same is probable if it reaches into the former Congo. I think the Chinese will discover the same: there will probably be traffic from and to Kampala, but not beyond.
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Re: Chinese charged over Kenya 'railway scam'

Postby johnthefireman » Wed Dec 05, 2018 2:57 pm

george matthews wrote:Even if it were extended into South Sudan I doubt if there would be enough traffic to justify it.


I wouldn't underestimate the potential freight traffic to and from South Sudan.
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Re: Chinese charged over Kenya 'railway scam'

Postby george matthews » Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:32 pm

johnthefireman wrote:
george matthews wrote:Even if it were extended into South Sudan I doubt if there would be enough traffic to justify it.


I wouldn't underestimate the potential freight traffic to and from South Sudan.

If the wars come to an end, what would be the traffic?
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Re: Chinese charged over Kenya 'railway scam'

Postby johnthefireman » Thu Dec 06, 2018 12:14 am

Gold and possbly other minerals, timber, livestock and agricultural products, as well as all sorts of inbound goods. There is also a possibility that at least in the short to medium term, and depending on the politics and economics of new pipelines, oil could be exported through East Africa by rail - Kenya is already exporting oil from Turkana by road, and South Sudan used to export oil by road and barge.

Incidentally the humanitarian disaster in South Sudan is likely to continue for some years, I fear, and huge tonnages of relief food are being imported by road. The railway is an attractive alternative. Remember how in the 1980s the late Phil Girdlestone was contracted to repair a number of steam locomotives for the humanitarian relief operations in Darfur? During the late 1980s and '90s diesel-hauled trains were used to transport aid into South Sudan as far as Wau until the bridge was destroyed.

Many African states are now planning up to thirty years ahead, and they are aware of how important communications infrastructure is to the growth and development of a country, and indeed a continent. New road, rail, pipeline and telecommunications projects are springing up everywhere, with increased cooperation and standardisation between neighbouring states - LAPSETT is one example. Many of them will face initial hurdles and will develop slower than planned, but don't write them off. Africa today is not the Africa that you and I first came to in the 'sixties and 'seventies. Kenya and Uganda are two prime examples of countries which would not have existed if not for the railway, the 'Lunatic Line' as it was called by its detractors, so don't be surprised if South Sudan and other developing nations are looking at modern standard gauge rail as a tool for development.
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