Kenya celebrated the breakthrough of the longest railway tunnel in East Africa, Ngong, which was drilled by China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) and is part of country’s Standard Gauge Railway.
The 4.5 – km tunnel is located on Nairobi – Naivasha rail section, part of 2A phase of the project, with a length of 120 km, estimated to be completed next year.
The Ngong tunnel has been designed as a single-track railway tunnel with a clearance height of nine meters and a width of 7 meters.
A 533-meter wide emergency rescue channel has also been built within the tunnel, to allow for vehicle access in case of emergencies.
CCCC used the New Austrian Tunneling Method (NATM) of drilling and blasting to build the tunnel, being the first time that such a technology has been used in Kenya, Steve Zhao, the CCCC Kenya SGR Project spokesperson said.
Kenya’s SGR project envisages the rail link between Mombasa Port and Malaba (at Uganda border) on a 472-km line, and the first phase was put into commercial operation in 2017. The USD 3.2 billion project was financed and built by China.
The second phase comprises two other stages which include a 120 km line between Nairobi and Naivasha, the Naivasha– Kisumu section, towards Malaba, on a 107-km rail link. The second phase includes the construction of four tunnels with a total length of 8 km and nine bridges with a total length of 24 km.