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Kenya's and Tanzania's passports are now the eighth most powerful in Africa and 71 globally.

The Henley Passport Index Report released on Monday shows that the number of countries that Kenyans can visit without a visa, or obtain it on arrival has increased to 72 from 64 in January last year. The country's mobility score improved six places in the latest ranking.

The mobility score measures the number of countries that a person holding Kenya’s passport can visit without having a visa or the nations where they can get a visa on arrival.

Kenya emerged eighth, a spot that it shared with Tanzania in the latest ranking and behind Mauritius, Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Seychelles and South Africa.

Last year, Kenya’s travel document had been placed at position 77 globally on the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“…Covid-19 and its interplay with instability and inequality has highlighted and exacerbated the shocking disparity in international mobility between wealthy developed nations and their poorer counterparts,” said the report.

Uganda emerged position 76 with Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan coming in at number 82, 92 and 99 respectively, according to the report.

The mobility score, which is an initiative of Henley Passport Index had last year downgraded the strength of Kenya’s travel document on account of devastating effects of the Covid-19 that lowered the number of countries that one would visit without visa.

Japan and Singapore tied at position one with citizens of these countries able to visit 192 countries without visas. Germany emerged third in the global ranking.

Kenya rolled out new chip-embedded passports for its citizens in a move that targets rampant forgery and impersonation of holders. The new features are meant to make it impossible for anyone to forge or duplicate a Kenyan passport.

Roll-out of the e-passports with a 10-year validity period marked the beginning of the end of the ‘analogue’ passports that have been in use since Independence and has joined 60 other countries that use new passports. - GERALD ANDAE, The EastAfrican

Ongoing works on the railway line connecting the Naivasha Inland Container Depot to Longonot Station at DK 20, Naivasha on February 16, 2021.

 

Kenya Railways has conducted its first trial freight train on the newly constructed link connecting the Standard Gauge Railway and Meter Gauge Railway in Naivasha.

The cargo destined for Malaba was loaded at the Mombasa port and transported via the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) before being transhipped onto the Metre Gauge Railway (MGR) line at the Naivasha Inland Container Depot (NICD).

Speaking at the event, Kenya Railways Managing Director Philip Mainga said that with a capacity to handle 120,000 containers annually, the Naivasha ICD facility will handle transit cargo to Uganda, South Sudan, DR Congo, Northern Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi.

This, he said accounts for 30 per cent of imports and exports through the Mombasa port. 

Mainga said that the new railway line linking the Standard Gauge Railway to the Metre Gauge Railway at the Naivasha Inland Container Depot will enhance efficiency and ease the transhipment.

“Our clients will now enjoy seamless transportation of cargo from the Port of Mombasa to Malaba and onward to the East African region in a safe, reliable and cost-effective way," he said. 

Mainga said the railway line offers safety, efficiency and reliability. It also cuts the reliance on road transport on the 572 kilometre stretch

He said transporters and importers can now pick their cargo at Malaba 36 hours upon the train's departure from Mombasa.  Customers may also choose to use rail from Malaba to Kampala.

Mainga said that at the Naivasha ICD, local clients will be offered 30 days free storage with quick cargo processing and transhipment onto wagons.

“We will have regular, speedy and reliable delivery of cargo through well-organised train schedules with strict timetables for the evacuation of cargo and empty container repatriation from the Inland Container Terminals,” he said. - GILBERT KOECH, The Star

Tanzania's overall standard-gauge rail program is divided into five sections, called lots. Map courtesy of Yapi Merkezi

 

Turkish contractor Yapi Merkezi late last month signed a $1.9-billion turnkey contract for the construction of 368 kilometers of electrified standard gauge railway (SGR) in Tanzania comprising all infrastructure works and the materials and systems for the trackwork, catenary power supply, signaling and telecommunications.

This is the third construction contract for the firm, which holds two other contracts for the overall SGR project—the 300-km Phase One connecting East Africa’s second biggest port of Dar es Salaam to Morogoro and the 426-km. Phase Two linking Morogoro to Makutupora. Phase 3 of the railway line is the third of five in the construction of a 1,219-km line linking Tanzania to neighboring countries, including Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda. “We are expecting to commence construction within the first quarter of 2022,” said Başar Arıoğlu, chairman of Yapı Merkezi Construction and Industry, the flagship of the Yapi Merkezi Group and Yapı Merkezi Holding.

This portion of the SGR line links Makutupora and Tabora with seven stations at Manyoni, Itigi, Tura, Malongwe, Goweko, Igalula and Tabora. The SGR trains will travel as high as160km/hr.

“Decorative elements obtained from Tanzania’s rich and colorful culture will be reflected in the design of station exteriors and interiors. Such cultural elements will also be used in visible sections of the line, such as viaducts and bridges,” says Arıoğlu.

The line, which will be constructed over a 46-month period, will increase Tanzania’s total investment in the SGR network to $6.3 billion.

Basar says the SGR line will handle higher axle loads and faster speeds and significantly increase the transportation capacity along the alignment, resulting in reduced costs for cargo and faster and comfortable rides for passengers.

“Most importantly, reduced carbon emissions will protect the world-renowned natural treasures of Tanzania and as a continuation of the previous two lots of the SGR, cargo trains will help decongest of the port of Dar es Salaam by ensuring goods that arrive at the port are moved towards destinations inland without delays and with ease,” he added.

Tanzania President Samia Suluhu Hassan has stated that her government is unable to finance the huge railway project using domestically generated revenues, and is pushing for concessional loans to finance a total of 2561 km of the SGR network concurrently with the improvement of the existing meter gauge line, which is narrower. Both lines are running parallel to each other.

Arıoğlu says the third phase passes through a terrain that is “mainly characterized by smooth topography, excluding the portion from Makutupora to Manyoni with two steep climbing sections with a total length of 30 kilometers.”

“One of the biggest challenges is the unknown regarding the actual topography and geotechnical conditions of the route, which were not fully available to the contractor at the tendering stage,” he adds.

Planning of the drainage and movement of water around the new line is a major engineering challenge and an important factor for the safe operation and durability of the SGR system, Basar notes. “The progress of the works could be affected by such activities as relocations and expropriations that must be carried out according to the principles set out in Environmental and Social Action Plans." - Shem Oirere, 

Turkish contractor Yapi Merkezi late last month signed a $1.9-billion turnkey contract for the construction of 368 kilometers of electrified standard gauge railway (SGR) in Tanzania comprising all infrastructure works and the materials and systems for the trackwork, catenary power supply, signaling and telecommunications.

This is the third construction contract for the firm, which holds two other contracts for the overall SGR project—the 300-km Phase One connecting East Africa’s second biggest port of Dar es Salaam to Morogoro and the 426-km. Phase Two linking Morogoro to Makutupora. Phase 3 of the railway line is the third of five in the construction of a 1,219-km line linking Tanzania to neighboring countries, including Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda. “We are expecting to commence construction within the first quarter of 2022,” said Başar Arıoğlu, chairman of Yapı Merkezi Construction and Industry, the flagship of the Yapi Merkezi Group and Yapı Merkezi Holding.

This portion of the SGR line links Makutupora and Tabora with seven stations at Manyoni, Itigi, Tura, Malongwe, Goweko, Igalula and Tabora. The SGR trains will travel as high as160km/hr.

“Decorative elements obtained from Tanzania’s rich and colorful culture will be reflected in the design of station exteriors and interiors. Such cultural elements will also be used in visible sections of the line, such as viaducts and bridges,” says Arıoğlu.

The line, which will be constructed over a 46-month period, will increase Tanzania’s total investment in the SGR network to $6.3 billion.

Basar says the SGR line will handle higher axle loads and faster speeds and significantly increase the transportation capacity along the alignment, resulting in reduced costs for cargo and faster and comfortable rides for passengers.

“Most importantly, reduced carbon emissions will protect the world-renowned natural treasures of Tanzania and as a continuation of the previous two lots of the SGR, cargo trains will help decongest of the port of Dar es Salaam by ensuring goods that arrive at the port are moved towards destinations inland without delays and with ease,” he added.

Tanzania President Samia Suluhu Hassan has stated that her government is unable to finance the huge railway project using domestically generated revenues, and is pushing for concessional loans to finance a total of 2561 km of the SGR network concurrently with the improvement of the existing meter gauge line, which is narrower. Both lines are running parallel to each other.

Arıoğlu says the third phase passes through a terrain that is “mainly characterized by smooth topography, excluding the portion from Makutupora to Manyoni with two steep climbing sections with a total length of 30 kilometers.”

“One of the biggest challenges is the unknown regarding the actual topography and geotechnical conditions of the route, which were not fully available to the contractor at the tendering stage,” he adds.

Planning of the drainage and movement of water around the new line is a major engineering challenge and an important factor for the safe operation and durability of the SGR system, Basar notes. “The progress of the works could be affected by such activities as relocations and expropriations that must be carried out according to the principles set out in Environmental and Social Action Plans." - Shem Oirere, Engineering News-Record

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