Train services a big relief as travellers troop back to city

The Kisumu- Nairobi MGR train making its way at Fort Tenan station in Kericho county on December 22, 2022. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

Several people were yesterday making frantic efforts to get means of transport back to Nairobi and other destinations after spending the Christmas holiday upcountry.

With transport costs still skyrocketing, a number of passengers resorted to using the train plying the Kisumu-Nairobi route.

The train had been scheduled to leave the lakeside city at 6.30 pm yesterday but was already fully booked by noon.

A spot check by The Standard at the Kisumu Railway station established that some passengers were already making inquiries on the availabilities of trains to take them back to Nairobi.

Joseph Opiyo, a mechanic in Kitengela who had travelled upcountry to celebrate Christmas with his family in Nyahera said that he was planning to travel back to Nairobi by train.

"It is slightly cheaper than what the buses are charging," said Opiyo.

With a fee of only Sh600 per trip from Kisumu and Nairobi, the train has come to the rescue of thousands who had travelled for Christmas.

At the main bus park, several families were also looking for means of transport back to Nairobi even as the cost of travel remained high. Most Public Service Vehicles were charging between Sh1,400 and Sh2,000.

Most of the major bus companies plying the Western Kenya route were already fully booked including their scheduled night trips.

A number of shuttles that operate between Kisumu and Nairobi told The Standard that the high passenger season has increased their income.

"Unlike other days when we have to wait for more than two hours to get passengers to occupy all seats, the current high number of passengers has seen us take even 30 minutes," said Maurice Mwaniki, a driver of a shuttle.

At the Kisumu bus park, a number of matatus that normally ply estate routes in Nairobi had shifted base to make a kill of the high season to net passengers travelling back to the capital.

Travellers from Kitale to Eldoret and Nairobi spent many hours to get to their destinations due to lack of transport.

Operators said they were overwhelmed by the huge volumes.

Travellers to Eldoret and Nairobi had to wait between two and three hours to board matatus.

Although fares remained the same, travellers had to spend several hours at the bus stage before proceeding to their next destination.

Kangaroo and North Rift shuttles which ply between Kitale, Eldoret, and Nairobi maintained their usual fares.

From Kitale to Eldoret, passengers were being charged Sh250 while those to Nairobi paid Sh1,500.

North rift, Northway's and Kangaroo shuttle charged the usual fare of Sh1,500 from Kitale to Nairobi.

Unlike in previous years, PSV operators charged fairly.

Trans Nzoia Governor George Natembeya lauded the operators on the standard fares to save Kenyans from exploitation.

"It is encouraging that PSV operators have not hiked the fare to exploit Kenyans. This is a good gesture," said Natembeya.

At Nakuru City, it was calm as there were no traffic jams or stranded passengers. The few passengers who were in the city say they had anticipated that many passengers would be travelling back yesterday.

In the Central Region, efforts by police to end traffic snarl during the festive season have been commended.

Central Region Police Commander Lydia Ligami said police deployed along the highways managed to end the traffic jams.

Speaking at Murang'a County while supervising police controlling vehicles along the Thika-Kenol section of the highway, she said they have deployed enough police to control traffic during the festive season.

"The issues on overlapping have been resolved due to the presence of the police officers along the highways," she said.

[Reports by Harold Odhiambo, Osinde Obare, Boniface Gikandi and Amos Kiarie and Daniel Chege]

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