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SGR's seven-year journey has been most impactful

Opinion
 Madaraka Express train at the SGR terminus, Nairobi, in September 2017. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

As the Standard Guage Railway operations celebrate seven years of success, it is essential to reflect on the journey and the significant milestones achieved in both passenger and freight services.

Since its inception, the SGR has transformed transportation within Kenya and emerged as a vital link in regional trade and commerce.

During the initial transition, critical functions such as passenger service, track maintenance, locomotive, and rolling stock workshops were transferred to Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC), signifying a strategic collaboration between the government and the SGR operator.

Specialised operations were partially transferred, ensuring a smooth knowledge exchange and continuity of service. This cooperation has been instrumental in providing the seamless operation of the railway network.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the SGR’s success is its commitment to local employment. Currently, there are 789 Kenyan employees directly under the SGR operator, while a significant number, 1,168, have been absorbed by the regulator. This demonstrates a commitment to localisation and skills transfer.

Safety has been a top priority for the SGR operations, with an impressive record of 2,558 safe days of operation.

Since June 2017, the Madaraka Express trains have transported a staggering 12.87 million passengers, showcasing the growing preference for rail travel among Kenyans.

A significant highlight in the realm of passenger transport services occurred on October 1, 2023, when a delegation comprising 13 diplomats, including ambassadors, high commissioners, and envoys from various nations based in Nairobi, embarked on a visit to the Nairobi Terminus of the SGR.

Their purpose was to acquaint themselves with the operational intricacies of the railway system before embarking on a journey to Mombasa aboard the Madaraka Express.

The SGR freight service has achieved remarkable milestones, including the dispatch of 2.68 million TEUs of containers and 32.87 million tonnes of cargo from January 2018 to May 2024.

The SGR’s impact on trade is undeniable. As a gateway to East Africa, Kenya serves landlocked countries like Uganda, Rwanda, DRC, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Burundi.

Looking ahead, the SGR’s vision extends beyond its current success. The upcoming extension from Naivasha to Kisumu and Malaba promises even swifter movement of people and goods.

This expansion will further solidify Kenya’s position as a trade hub within East Africa, contributing immensely to the nation’s economic prosperity.

The SGR is actively seeking partnerships with manufacturing companies, logistics firms involved in import and export, and other stakeholders in the transportation sector.

Seven years on, the SGR’s story is one of remarkable success. It has transformed passenger travel, empowered the workforce, fostered trade, and positioned Kenya as a leader in regional connectivity.

As the SGR embarks on its next chapter, one can be certain that it will continue to be a powerful engine propelling Kenya and East Africa towards a brighter economic future.

-Ms Munyao has wide experience in SGR transport logistics and operations

 

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