Businessman-turned-politician Jimi Wanjigi has now revealed that he was the brains behind the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), going ahead to give insight into intrigues that went on behind the scenes of arguably the biggest Jubilee government project to date.
Wanjigi, who spoke in an exclusive interview with Citizen TV on Sunday night, said he differed with the Jubilee government when initial agreements allegedly started being broken as the project progressed.
The business magnate said SGR was initially supposed to cost Ksh.55 billion, but the figure went to over Ksh.300 billion, causing massive friction between himself and the government.
He also revealed that the railway line was supposed to run from Mombasa to Malaba, but it later came to his attention that it was only going to run from Mombasa to Nairobi, and still at nearly six times the original set cost no less.
“SGR was a project birthed by me in 2008 with a company called China Road and Bridge. We birthed it, we spent a lot of money doing what you call feasibility studies and technical studies,” he said.
“What I recall of the project cost was something like Ksh.55 billion, from Mombasa all the way to Malaba. After 2013, it came to my attention that it was now not a project worth Ksh.55 billion between Mombasa and Malaba but Ksh.300-plus billion just from Mombasa to Nairobi. And I said this does not make sense to me. This is where we differed.”
According to the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party presidential ticket contender, the intention of the SGR project at the conception stage was for it to be private, with government only leasing the land.
He claimed that money meant for the project was to be provided by the Chinese, not the Kenyan taxpayers; an agreement he further alleges that the government backtracked on.
“The intention when we began was that rail was going to be a private rail, nothing to do with government. In fact government was just supposed to provide the land which we were prepared to lease, it was like a real estate project,” he stated.