Konza: Ever sleepy ex-colonial-era outpost begins to brighten up

By Kurgat Marindany

The Kenya-Uganda railway, as it is known today, is a railway system linking the hinterland of Uganda and Kenya to the Indian Ocean at Mombasa.
During and after its construction its detractors such as British parliamentarian Henry Labouchere called it “the Lunatic Express” while some locals called it “the iron snake”.
The railway was built by the British government under the foreign office at the start of the period when Britain maintained direct administrative control of the region known as British East Africa- A region stretching from the eastern coast of Africa to the kingdom of Buganda, on the north-western shores of Lake Victoria.
Construction started at the Kenyan port city of Mombasa in 1896 and reached Kisumu (then called-Port Florence) on the eastern shore of Lake Victoria in 1901. The second stretch of the railway into Kampala, Uganda started in 1901 and was completed in 1903.
Before the Kenya—a Uganda railway reached Konza outpost in early 1900, the area was a grazing region for wild animals and livestock belonging to the local Kamba and Kaputiei Maasai communities.
Konza town grew as a local market along the Kenya-Uganda railway on the boundary of Kajiado and Makueni counties, and it is some 8 kilometres from the main Mombasa Road.
Government establishments in the town include police station, maize silos and a Kenya Railway substation.
Konza town is also a junction on the Kenya Railways network, and where branch line to Magadi diverts.
The diversion leads to Lake Magadi in Kajiado West Sub County through Kajiado town, Kenya Marble Quarries, Elangata Wuas, Singiraini, Koora and Magadi.
Until 2015, Konza town on both Makueni and Kajiado sides remained sleepy round the clock with little commercial activity.
In 2016 when the National Land Commission compensated with cash farmers around Konza whose land through which the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) passed,new investors bought plots on the Kajiado side and constructed permanent commercial buildings.
Speaking during a tour of the facility, the Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KOTDA) CEO Eng. John Tanui, said they are in consultation with Government on the implementation of cities basic facilities including wastewater and streetscapes for the 400-acre phase that will be implemented through an engineering, procurement and finance model (EPCF).

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