Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho has urged President Kenyatta to stop the construction of the second phase of the standard gauge railway to save Kenyan more debt pain.
Too much external borrowing and failure to service the loans will eventually hurt Kenyans, Mr Joho said on Tuesday.
If all goes according to plan, it will cost more than Sh800 billion to extend the railway line from the capital Nairobi to Kisumu.
The Mombasa-Nairobi phase cost Sh327 billion, the extension to Naivasha will cost Sh150 billion and the Naivasha-Kisumu extension will cost Sh380 billion.
Next month, the government will sign a Sh380-billion contract for the second phase of the rail, a flagship project for Mr Kenyatta’s Jubilee government.
“If it is burdensome, let us stop it for a while, relook at it probably after five years” Mr Joho said in an interview with Pilipili FM in Mombasa.
While Mr Kenyatta is keen on leaving a good legacy and “I support it”, Mr Joho added that the president must do the right thing.
“Leave legacy in a manner that resonates with the current situation of the mwananchi (the ordinary person),” he said.
“Let us first cut down launching of new projects and instead complete the existing ones. Let us put money where mwananchi’s lives will be transformed.”
He said he equally wants to take loans and do many things for Mombasa residents but he cannot because eventually that burden will be borne by the Kenyan taxpayers.
“Don’t overburden Kenyans. National borrowing is a big issue, tujipange (let’s plan well),” added the governor.
“SGR is a burden to Kenyans, you will remember I issued a press conference 2016 about it and people laughed at me. I said, you cannot go ahead and do such a mega project under the terms of the loans they took,” he said.