Kenya has ambitious plans to build a modern railway that could be a catalyst for transforming East Africa.
A major part of the project involves upgrading the existing line between Mombasa on the Indian Ocean to the shores of Lake Victoria – the route once dubbed the “lunatic line” because of the high cost of building it – both in terms of money and human life.
The upgrade in Kenya will cost between $3bn to $5bn (£1.8bn to £3bn).
Mugo Kibati of Kenya’s Vision 2030, an ambitious development plan for Kenya that aims to see annual growth rates of 10% over the next 20 years, said the new railway would play a key role in bringing that about.
Privately (and/or foreign, in this case Chinese) funded new railways are completely appropriate in “developing” countries, building them is how they replace the “ing” with “ed”.
But what happens when the railroad goes bankrupt? The foreign capitalists (communist/capitalists) lose their stock, but the railroad remains in place, definitely a good thing for the locals. (Now, why would you, or the Chinese, invest in such a thing, that is the difficult question).
North St. Paul has added its own twist to a metro area street-construction plan.
The city has taken the national “Complete Streets” initiative – a set of policies calling for better-designed and usually narrower roads – a step further by adding eco-friendly elements such as trees and rainwater gardens to the design.
Advocates hope North St. Paul’s plan, dubbed “Living Streets,” will prevent polluted runoff from entering storm drains, create safer streets and make neighborhoods more attractive – all at less cost to the city.
Traditionally, “streets were looked at very narrowly as places for travel,” City Manager Wally Wysopal said. “Now we realize we need to look at their impact for overall environmental concerns.”
If “living streets” is going to become a movement, it should get a domain like livingstreets.org or livingstreets.com , the first is held by squatters, the second by an individual advocate. livingstreets.org.uk is a pedestrian charity, close but not quite.
Michelin stresses though that when taken together, the maps, guides and digital businesses are profitable. But the losses incurred by the red books have become such a concern that Michelin has turned to outside consultants. Accenture looked last year at three different scenarios for the red books, including outright closure.
The nuclear option was quickly rejected, partly in recognition of the undoubted brand value of the guide but also because of the political impossibility in France of such drastic action. However, Accenture warned that to carry on with things as they are today would mean yearly losses at the guide hitting €19m by 2015, representing a cumulative loss of €70m over the next four years.
The thinking seems to be that Michelin would do well to seek a share of the good fortune that its awards bestow on restaurants, possibly by creating a “red book” website that provides paid-for links for those establishments with Michelin stars and allows users to make online reservations.
Better news for devotees of the red book’s star-system is found in a separate internal study carried out for those now running the company, who wanted to know just how much all that Guide Michelin publicity was worth to the bread and butter business of selling tyres. The study shows that the presence of Guide Michelin in a country means people are up to 3 per cent more likely to buy its tyres. With €5bn of tyre sales in the first three months of this year alone, these are figures to be taken seriously. Certainly, defenders of the faith are eager to stress the huge amount of “buzz” every time a guide is launched or Michelin starts covering a new city.