Jimmy Wanjigi: Man Who Initiated Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) Idea

  • The Standard Gauge Railway has been the recent cause of debate between the government and members of the Opposition due to varying opinions on who was the brains behind its inception.

    During its launch, President Uhuru Kenyatta labelled it an accomplishment by his government as it would easen the transport of both commuters and goods to and from Mombasa at an affordable cost in less time.

    Opposition Chief Raila Odinga on the same day issued a statement saying the poject was a brainchild of his Grand Coalition government with retired President Mwai Kibaki and warned Kenyatta against terming it as a Jubilee project.

    It has now emerged that the idea, at its infancy, was floated by billionaire businessman Jimmy Wanjigi in 2008.

    Wanjigi introduced Kenyan government officials to China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) and in 2009, an MoU was entered between the governmnet and CRBC.

    The businessman and CRBC General Manager Du Fei were said to be good friends and the former's initial plan was to get the Chinese company to complete the project.

    Upon completion, the contractor would have taken charge of full operations of the railway until the funds were fully repaid then would hand it over to the government.

    This was not achieved as Wanjigi's proposal was not approved by Odinga.

    At some point, the two businessmen felt shortchanged by the government, which seemed to hijack their plan, and in 2012, Wanjigi ditched Raila for President Uhuru Kenyatta since he had plans of completing the project in his manifesto.

    According to sources, the Chinese government realised Kenya would struggle to finance the project and it was at this point that it changed from the initial plan to a loan.

    [caption caption="Businessman Jimmy Wanjigi"][/caption]