The two last days of the month of May marked a new dawn in Kenya’s transport sector; the launching of the Standard Gauge Railway line connecting Nairobi and Mombasa.
The Standard Gauge Railway, the largest infrastructural project in East and Central Africa, is expected to haul 22 million tonnes of cargo annually from Mombasa to Nairobi.
The 13 passenger locomotives will each have a capacity of 1,260 per trip.One passenger train, at its optimum,can replace 20 buses (62 seater) while one
cargo train can carry 61,000 tonnes a day.The tonnage is equivalent to about 2,000
trucks each carrying an average load of 30 tonnes.
The project’s passenger and cargo capacity may be a killer blow for buses and private cargo hauliers. To add to that,the project may just dismantle corruption cartels rooted in the road weighbridges.
With the seemingly friendly fare prices between Nairobi-Mombasa, with the president capping the cost at Ksh 700 for the ordinary class, there is bound to be increased movement of people between the two towns.
However, for SGR to give the country value for money, the country needs to do more than to hype these numbers. The project, and Kenya Ports Authority as well as the Kenya Revenue Authority operations must be effectively managed to ensure efficiency. As the president noted during the launch of the project, transporting cargo on rail will be cheaper
For over a century, Kenya has relied on an inefficient rail system. The sector has, over the years, carried an image of inefficiency and dilapidated wagons as a trademark.
To justify the huge investment in SGR, the government must learn from the past
and curtail cartels forming or curving a space in the rail sector.
Success of the project will come with decreased road accidents and less road maintenance cost on Mombasa Nairobi route