The standard gauge railway freight service is off the station with the operator, Kenya Railways Corporation, saying hundreds of more containers are set to be hauled to Nairobi on Thursday.
This is an encouraging sign in the implementation of the project tipped to accelerate regional economic growth.
We, however, feel that there is a key issue the corporation must address if the service, the backbone of the massive Sh327 billion railway investment, is to succeed in ensuring that Kenyans get value for their money.
The operator should address the last mile concern raised by stakeholders. Transporting the biggest container using the train to the Nairobi depot costs Sh70,000.
Traders still have to incur extra tens of thousands of shillings more trucking the same container outside the city.
From a value proposition point, the train is still less attractive compared to using a truck to transport the same container to the final destination for the same amount. And this will be the thinking of every trader weighing the transport options.
The corporation should revisit its costing and value addition plans to ensure it is always the top choice of every trader. Failure to do so, we fear could turn the investment into a white elephant.