A week after the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) Mai Mahiu passenger terminus was opened by President Uhuru Kenyatta, it has remained inaccessible due to a poor road.
The 12-km murram road connects the terminus to the Mai Mahiu-Narok road. It was already in a deplorable condition before the ongoing rains damaged it even further.
The uproar over the poor state of the road comes hot on the heels of criticism of the 120-km Nairobi-Suswa railroad, which has been described as leading to ‘nowhere’.
Critics say the railway is unlikely to attract many passengers because it fails to connect any significant urban centres with Nairobi.
Residents and travellers called on the Government to rehabilitate the road to ease transport costs that, ironically, have shot up.
For one to travel to Nairobi from Mai Mahiu, a person must either hire a taxi to the train station and pay Sh500, or ride on a boda boda for Sh150. They must then pay for a Sh100 train ticket.
Travelling to Nairobi using a matatu, on the other hand, costs only Sh100.
Benson Mungai, a local leader, addressed the Press at the station and said passengers seeking to travel to Nairobi were being referred to Suswa Station, which is situated 30 kilometres from Mai Mahiu.
That means a traveller from Mai Mahiu would have to pay Sh70 matatu fare to Suswa then ride a boda boda to the SGR station for Sh150 because there are no public service vehicles that terminate at the station.
Mr Mungai said it was a waste of resources for the Government to commission a modern station only for officers mandated to work in the area to refer travellers elsewhere.
“We saw the train here on Saturday and Sunday and it only dropped off passengers. Those wishing to board were told to travel all the way to Suswa in Narok County,” he said.
Mungai wondered why the government had said that the SGR was terminating in Nakuru County but key services had been moved to neighbouring Narok County.
His sentiments were echoed by Peter Ngigi, a resident, who said it had become expensive to travel by train to Nairobi from Mai Mahiu owing to the poor road network.
Mr Ngigi said it did not make economic sense to spend a lot of money to get to the station and called on the Government to speed up rehabilitation of the connector road.
A resident, Freshia Njoki, called on President Kenyatta to assist locals living in villages around the station to get electricity under the rural electrification programme.
“The station has a transformer that can be used to power four villages. As the host community, we ought to benefit from government projects near us”, Ms Njoki said.
Nakuru County Commissioner Erastus Mbui had promised that the road would be rehabilitated.
Mr Mbui also said the Government was committed to building a special economic zone nearby, which would offer tax breaks and cheap power as a way of encouraging cargo transport along the new railroad.
“The Government has the plan figured out. The roads to the station and other areas targeted for industrial park projects will be rehabilitated,” the administrator said.
But with construction of the industrial park yet to start, it is not expected that there will be much demand for cargo services in the near future.
During the railroad’s inauguration, President Kenyatta dismissed criticism of the SGR project.
“Some prophets of doom are saying that this railway is going nowhere but as a government, we know what we are doing as we are planning for the future.”
The Sh150 billion railroad cuts across Nairobi, Kajiado, Narok and Nakuru.
The line has four passenger stations namely; Ongata Rongai, Ngong, Mai Mahiu and Suswa and one interchange station at Nachu Station.