The Standard Gauge Railway is undoubtedly a positive infrastructural project that has a lot of potential for the freight and tourism industry.
However, one gets the feeling that the project was merely meant to offer the government free publicity. This notion is as a result of a number of cracks that have hindered the delivery of services. It is inexplicable that the project had been in the pipeline for over three years but basic services such as online booking are yet to be rolled out, a month after the SGR was launched.
The afternoon train had been scheduled to start last on Saturday July 1st. Last Friday and with only a day to the start of the service, the Kenya Railways announced that the second train service would not start on the planned date, claiming that the “handover process had not been completed”.
Interestingly, Kenya Railways had retweeted a story on the launch of the second train service on Friday morning which suggests that they must have known that the second train would not debut on July 1.
The fact that the management did not give a new deadline, only insisting that the train would start in “the coming weeks”, does little to console those who have been waiting for the afternoon train.
Yet this is not the only area of the project that is problematic. The access roads, particularly for the Miritini station are only being constructed now even though construction was by companies that were not affiliated with the Chinese constructor in charge of the railway project. A friend of mine joked that every part of the project that was left under the care of Kenyans has served as a weak link. Kenya Railways, sort out this mess and spare us from bearing the brunt of this joke!
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