How beneficial is the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) to the economy of Kenya? Is the SGR bringing in any economic value? Are Kenyans getting value for the billions of shillings they are paying in taxes?
It is true that SGR has presented Kenyans with a cheaper and fast movement from Nairobi to Mombasa and from Mombasa to Nairobi. But despite the fact that Kenyans are traveling faster, what are they getting in return in terms of economic value?
Well, for a period of three years, Kenyans have used 46.71 billion shillings to run and maintain the Standard Gauge Railway. With such an amount of money used, one will expect the return to higher than the investment. But was this the case?
A report presented in Parliament by the Ministry of Transport shows that despite Kenyans coughing out 46.71 billion shillings to the SGR, the SGR only managed to return 25.03 billion shillings, registering a loss of 21.68 billion shillings.
The taxpayers now have an obligation, by default, to fill up the hole occasioned by the loss to ensure that the Chinese who gave us the loan gets paid. Currently, the Ministry has defaulted paying at least 40 billion shillings as the debt continues to balloon with each passing day.
SGR has been termed as President Uhuru Kenyatta’s and his deputy’s flagship project but one that has also been termed as the most controversial, flooded with secrets and unknown terms contained in the contract. President Uhuru Kenyatta promised to make the contents of the contract public but nothing has ever been done.
Will Kenyans be able to sustain the Standard Gauge Railway? What will happen if the railway continues to make losses? What are the contents of the contract? What is the security in the event that we fail to pay back the loan on time?
Only time will tell.