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Standard Gauge Railway Project Phase 1 Mombasa to Nairobi, Kenya

May 30, 2017 marked the launch of the impressive Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (the Madaraka Express) in Kenya, financed and built by Chinese interests. There have been some complaints by conservationists and pastoralists.


The Mombasa–Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) is a standard gauge railway that connects the port city of Mombasa to Kenya's capital city Nairobi. The railway replaces the parallel and colonial Uganda Railway that was originally built during the British colonial rule in the 19th century. Under the East African Railway Master Plan[1], the Mombasa–Nairobi SGR will link up with other standard gauge railways that are being built in East Africa. Construction is already under way on Phase II of the Kenya SGR, which will extend the railway to the Uganda border by 2021[2].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Standard Gauge Railway Project Phase 1 Mombasa to Nairobi, Kenya
Location of conflict:Tsavo National Park
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Establishment of reserves/national parks
Land acquisition conflicts
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific commodities:Transport services
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

The single-track standard gauge railway between Mombasa and Nairobi(SGR) will have a route length of 472km to link Nairobi to the port of Mombasa on the Indian Ocean coast. It is planned that the railway will eventually be extended to link Nairobi to Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.The estimated cost of the railway line is $3.8 billion, with 90% of the financing provided by China Exim Bank and the other 10% contribute by the Kenya government,the railway was built by the China Road and Bridge Engineering Co., Ltd., the project started in December 2014, which lasted two and a half years, officially opened on May 31, 2017.

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Level of Investment:3,800,000,000
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:2013
Company names or state enterprises:China Road and Bridge Engineering Co., Ltd. (CRBC) from China
China Communication Construction Company Ltd. (CCCC) from China
Relevant government actors:-National Land Commission (NLC)
International and Finance InstitutionsChina Exim Bank from China
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:- "Save the elephant"
- Friends of Nairobi National Park
- East African Wildlife Society
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Landless peasants
Forms of mobilization:Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Potential: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Negotiated alternative solution
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The new railway has many advantages but it comes together with plans for a wider road. It cuts through Tsavo National Park, a great area for wildlife. Also, herders complain of the new barriers that the railway implies. Some improvements were made after complaints by conservationists.
Sources and Materials
Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[2] Mombasa–Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway
[click to view]

[3] First phase of railway construction expected to create 30,000 jobs
[click to view]

[4] Chinese company helps build new railway in Kenya
[click to view]

[5] 中國援建鐵路肯尼亞通車 當地最大基建 東非鐵路網起點
[click to view]

[6] Kenya opens Nairobi-Mombasa Madaraka Express railway
[click to view]

[7] Yun Sun, Nonresident Fellow - Global Economy and Development, Africa Growth Initiative. Brookings Institution
[click to view]

[8] Kenya Railway’s Standard Gauge Railway
[click to view]

[9] Controversial Railway Splits Kenya’s Parks, Threatens Wildlife
[click to view]

[10] National Lands Commission sets conditions on paying Standard Gauge Railway compensation
[click to view]

[1] East African Railway Master Plan
[click to view]

[12] Kenya to build giant railway bridges over national park. August 4, 2015
[click to view]

[11] Kenya announces plan to buy land for standard gauge railway
[click to view]

[13] Planned Rail Line Would Intersect Kenya’s Nairobi National Park
[click to view]

Other documents

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Source: National Geographic
[click to view]

[click to view]

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Contributor:EnvJustice, ICTA-UAB
Last update07/12/2017
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