“I will be part of the delegation to accompany the President to the Asian country next week. The new SGR line will extend from Naivasha, Narok, Bomet, Sondu and finally Kisumu” – Raila Odinga on the 20th April 2019
We are now surely living in interesting days. Not enough that the “opposition” leader and Building Bridges Initiative leader Raila Odinga was stringing along with President Uhuru Kenyatta to Beijing and the Belt and Road Initiative Summit in Beijing this week. It was a grand summit with all the partners who are cooperating with the Chinese on their mission. Clearly, the Kenyan government officials had to go. As they have substantial investments, loans and projects already done in Kenya.
This being the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Mombasa to Nairobi, now the second extension is to Naivasha. Clearly, that is not as golden as getting it to Kisumu. Then it would be a better deal to get the railway from Uganda connected too. The reason why President Museveni even took the ride in Kenya during the last month or so. Therefore, the trip to China now, seems abysmal. Even if they get to sell avocados. It is at least something.
I will first show you the two reports from the day before the Kenyan Officials flew to Beijing as they were scheduled to meet and negotiate a loan for an extension of the SGR to Kisumu. Alas, that has clearly not gone to plan. That is why I will show what one media house in Kenya wrote today and what the State House claims after failing.
CTGN reported on the 23rd April 2019:
“Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta will today travel to China to secure a Sh368 billion loan for the extension of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR)” (Christine Maema – ‘Kenya’s President travels to China to secure Sh368b SGR loan’ 23.04.2019, link: https://africa.cgtn.com/2019/04/23/kenyas-president-travels-to-china-to-secure-sh368b-sgr-loan/).
Standard Media on the same day:
“President Uhuru Kenyatta will today travel to China to negotiate a Sh368 loan billion for extension of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), a State House official has confirmed. Uhuru will be flanked by African Union’s High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa, Raila Odinga” (Moses Nyamori – ‘ Uhuru leaves for China to secure Sh368bn loan for SGR extension’ 23.04.2019, link: https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001322214/uhuru-goes-to-china-for-more-loans).
Citizen Kenya reports today:
“However, there was no word from the Kenya – China talks on the Naivasha – Kisumu SGR extension. Instead, Kenya signed an operation and maintenance service agreement for the Nairobi to Naivasha segment of the SGR. “.. the most important investment right now is to connect the SGR to Naivasha MGR so that come August there will be seamless connectivity,” CS Macharia said, the government choosing to hold its head high despite not achieving the much sought after Ksh.368billion” (Citizen Kenya – ‘ SGR construction to end in Naivasha as China loan bid flops’ 27.04.2019, link: https://citizentv.co.ke/news/sgr-construction-to-end-in-naivasha-as-china-loan-bid-flops-242884/).
State House Press Statement:
“It is important to note that the question of funding for the extension of the Standard Guage Railway from Naivasha to Kisumu was not on the agenda of the meeting between the two President’s. It therefore follows that the President cannot be said to be returning home empty handed for something he did not request. It further goes without saying that these headlines are are not only factually incorrect, they are misleading and extremely damaging to the reputation of the People and the Government of the Republic of Kenya. Whilst making it clear that the Government of Kenya did not discuss any funding proposals for the extension of the SGR at this meeting, it is very critical to state at this point that the SGR project is a regional project and the complexities in negotiating its completion involve several countries and securing financing for its completion could take several years of intricate negotiations” (State House – Press Statement, 27.04.2019).
First be first, the delegation from Kenya was a bit to excited and well prepared to come home with a giant loan. To a state and republic already high on the old loans. Where the SGR is already a losing money project and it is well established. As well, as the levels of loans compared to the budgets are already hitting the economy too. Therefore, that they were so pleased to travel for more loans is a crazy idea, but in the sphere of Jubilee, its just another Tuesday.
Secondly, the media showed and mirrored the events before, where both Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta was preparing for the loans. Kenyatta even had visit from Museveni to ensure his support and willingness to add the stakes for an extension. Because, that would mean, the same sort of deal and arrangement could be done with Kampala as well. Alas, the Northern Corridor Integration Projects with the SGR between the Republic is surely on hold. As the Republics are not capable or able to configure the stakes, the leverage or collateral for the Chinese to accept the conditions of a possible loan.
Third, when the State House comes out with a Press Release like today. It is sort of thinking that people have the memory of a gold-fish. Because, the statements of Odinga before leaving. Was all praising and willing to build a Industrial Zone in Kisumu in combination of the extended SGR. However, that dream is gone in the wind. The Jubilee and the President couldn’t fix another giant loan for the state to eat. Clearly, he missed the mark. Even if the State House claims he never intended to get it. Why have the meeting and greeting with Museveni before and later travel with a giddy Odinga? That doesn’t make sense to me? Can someone explain that to me, I don’t speak the language of gibberish.
We know there is more than what they say. The State House is trying to deflect it, surely soon Odinga is defending the State House. As the loyal subject he has become. He was planning not only to build a bridge, but also be a part of the belt and road initiative too. That would mean a double pay-off. Kenyatta nevertheless, will surely find another scheme to trick money to his businesses. We are just awaiting it.
The SGR Trick have been the same all along, awaiting the blessing and the nod from Beijing. Hopefully the Jubilee follows this old Chinese Proverb: “Timely return of a loan makes it easier to borrow a second time”.
If not, they might loose more than the good favours and possible loans from them. They might even loose, whatever collateral they made in previous engagement. Also, make it twice as harder to get more loans. Peace.