By Andrew Wasike
NAIROBI, Kenya (AA) - Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday presided over the launch of a controversial railway line.
The Standard Gauge Railway Phase 2A will connect the capital Nairobi to Suswa town, located on the floor of the Great Rift Valley.
Kenyatta said the Chinese-built line will bring economic benefits to the people of Rift Valley region in Kenya.
"The railway line will boost development and the economy of this region," Kenyatta said.
The Kenyan government has been criticized locally for continuing with the railway project although China cut funding for the project which was to link Kenya and Uganda.
"We will complete the railway and we shall transform Kenya, there will be challenges along the way but that does not mean we will not do it," Kenyatta said.
Environmental activists and conservationists have held numerous protests over the railway’s route which cuts through the Nairobi National Park endangering wildlife and disrupting animal migration routes.
Up to Nairobi, the railway line covers 472 kilometers (293 miles) and has cost Kenya $3.8 billion to construct.
From Nairobi the railway line stretches to Suswa and will only provide commuter services at a steady 120 kilometers (75 miles) per hour.
The high-speed railway is the largest single investment made in Kenya since the East African country gained independence in 1963. But the construction of the railway line has not been smooth as Chinese builders have been attacked by the locals who claim that they have not been given a share of the construction jobs.