Traders upbeat as new railway project is launched


President Uhuru Kenyatta and other government officials during the commissioning of the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway at Miritini Station, May 31, 2017. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NMG

Traders who ply the Nairobi-Mombasa route anticipate faster turn-around times for their businesses following the launch of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) train services.

President Uhuru Kenyatta Wednesday flagged off the passenger service in Mombasa, having launched cargo trains on Tuesday.

Business people who rode on the inaugural train predicted better times for their businesses, with the easier commute between the country’s two biggest cities.

“As a business lady, it will be easier to travel to Mombasa as the train only takes four hours, carry on my activities and hopefully travel back to Nairobi in the evening,” said Elizabeth Ngala, a Kitui-based fresh fruit exporter.

According to Simon Maruta, a Nairobi-based businessman, the passenger train services offers a viable transport alternative for him as it is faster and cheaper than other means of transportation.

Introductory fares for the passenger train’s first class from Nairobi to Mombasa will be Sh3,000, while economy class will cost Sh700.

Abraham Maruta, a Tharaka-Nithi based fresh juice vendor, says the SGR cargo train is going to boost business between Mombasa and Nairobi because it will take five hours to travel from Nairobi to Mombasa, a journey that previously took 24 hours by trucks and 12 hours by the old and derelict trains.

READ: Kenyans to pay minimum Sh700 for Mombasa-Nairobi SGR train ride

Change begins

“This is the beginning of change for Kenya,” said an excited Irene Njambi, a grocery trader in Kiambu County.

The launch of the modern Mombasa-Nairobi train service that runs at an average speed of 120km per hour successfully brings to an end a 42–month journey that begun on November 28, 2013.

The 472-kilometre railway line between Mombasa and Nairobi is Kenya’s largest single infrastructure project since independence, constructed at a cost of Sh327 billion co-financed through commercial and semi-concessional loans from China and the Kenya government.

It is one of the key part of the Jubilee administration promise to improve infrastructure, which also include the upgrading of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, the Mombasa port and the Lapsset project.