The long-anticipated SGR standing for standard gauge railway Kenya is finally here with us. If you haven’t taken a trip to Mombasa lately using the train, then you have missed a lot in place. Gone are the days you could take a bumpy ride to Kenya’s coast by bus, reaching the scenic destination tired and weary just like walking from the moon to the earth.
To secure your seat, you can get a ticket via SGR online booking platform at the comfort of your home or office. The passenger coach is dubbed “Madaraka Express”as it was launched by His Excellency Hon. Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta just a day before Kenya celebrated its 2017 Madaraka Day, a day in history when this great nation attained self-rule from the colonial government.
The following is an exclusive list of all you need to know about the famous SGR Kenya.
The project is believed to have cost the Kenyan government Kshs 327 billion to complete its first face that runs from the capital Nairobi to Mombasa covering a distance of 427km (293 miles). Though it’s considered Kenya’s first major infrastructure investment since her independence in 1963, there have been allegations by NASA leaders led by Mombasa governor Ali Hassan Joho that the project had been inflated byover100 billion to benefit government cartels.
The Kenyan government only paid 10% of the cost of constructing the project while China Exim bank offered 90% of the rest of the funds as a loan to the government. On that note, taxpayers are prepared to pay the loan as the Chinese still owe us a massive amount even as we boast of and enjoy SGR services.
Since its launch by President Kenyatta on 30th May 2017, the train will be under the management of China Communications Construction Company till 2027 when they will formally hand it over to the government of Kenya and Kenya railways. It is the company that gave birth to China Road and Bridge Corporation that saw the construction of the project.
Former president Hon. Mwai Kibaki came up with the plan to construct the first standard gauge railway Kenya and was drafted into a paper in 2009 during its tenure. Both the government of Kenya and Uganda later signed a MoU (Memorandum of understanding) in October 2009 in agreement to build the SGR from Mombasa to Kampala.
In August 2013, three East African countries, i.e., Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda signed a three-way agreement to check its development through their respective capital cities. The project was then implemented by president Uhuru’s administration.
SGR led to the construction of nine stations from the coastal city Mombasa to the capital with each station’s architecture representing local elements. It consists of the following;
- Mombasa terminus- comprising of a central tower and concentric circles symbolizing the ocean
- Mariakani - Entranceways are inspired by coconut trees which are numerous in that region.
- Miasenyi – The terminus is made up of white and brown stripes representing a zebra.
- Voi – its architecture is V-shaped showing a person raising hands and also showing the spirit of Harambee. V is the first letter of Voi.
- Mtito Andei – Its roofs are sloppy in nature symbolizing Chyulu Hills and Mt. Kilimanjaro.
- Kibwezi – Built per the African culture with the presence of leaves that prevent passengers from the exposure of sunlight.
- Emali - the terminus takes the shape of a fist portraying the country’s unity
- Athi River-it takes the shape of the hills within that locality
- Nairobi – the capital’s Terminus has architecture of two trains with a bridge on its top
The train will run through eight counties.
During its launch in 2017, all the crew including locomotive drivers and stewards were all women. The train that carried both the President and Vice president was driven from Mombasa to Nairobi by two female drivers.
SGR will travel with a travel speed of 120km/ hr. meaning it will take a passenger three and a half hours to travel from the capital to the coast without including regular stoppages on various stations. The train can manage to transport 1,200 passengers daily and one can obtain a ticket through SGR online booking.
The cost of using SGR Kenya is relatively low compared to traveling by bus, as a passenger in economy class will part with Ksh 900 while a business class enthusiast will pay Ksh 3,000. Well, the interest of the common "mwananchi" is at stake.
You will part with Ksh 50,000 to ferry a 20-foot container from the Kenyan coast to Nairobi. Cargo trains will have a total capacity of approximately 216 Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs), andits speed will be distinct as it will travel at an average speed of 80km/hr. A standard freight train on one rail line will be made up of 54 double stack flat wagons that measure approximately 880m long.
The start of the project s created employment opening of over 30,000 comprising of 2,000 Chinese workers who were mainly managers and engineers that played a major role in the provision skills and management to the Kenyan workers. On the other hand, over 25,000 Kenyans made up of both skilled and unskilled personnel benefited from the project. Though the first face is completed, many workers have been rendered jobless.
The unveiling of the new train trail will not end the operations of the other old railway line. The new line will run parallel to both the previous line and the A109 high way representing (Nairobi-Mombasa road). To attain the correct curvature and gradient, it will surely deviate from stipulated points.
The Standard Gauge Railway Kenya will originally carry diesel trains, and its electrification will be done in the future.This move by Kenya Railways will be a way of following the steps of Ethiopia and Djibouti who made history by launching the first ever electric train in Africa during 2015 between its borders. It connects Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital to Djibouti’s Red Sea with a stretch of 750 km (466 miles)