NAIROBI, Kenya, May 31 – The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) says the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) train will ease traffic congestion on the roads. Speaking in Mombasa before the launch of the passenger train by President Uhuru Kenyatta, Director General Francis Meja explained that this will also see a decrease in traffic accidents.
“We as NTSA are happy to be part of this. There has been a lot of pressure on our roads, we believe this is one way of easing that pressure and we are looking forward to seeing the train work,” he stated.
The new Chinese-built route is aimed at cementing Kenya’s position as the gateway to East Africa and is billed as the biggest infrastructure project since independence and a key selling point for the ruling Jubilee party ahead of the August elections.
“This is also part of land transport and as we have said, there has been a lot of pressure on our highways especially the number of trucks we see on our highway, we believe when the cargo freight section of the railways will be fully operational, we should be able to lessen the pressure on our roads and even reduce accidents,” Meja said.
There was a lot of excitement at Miritini station as passengers waited for the launch. A number of Kenyans including leaders, government officials and foreign dignitaries had already checked into the station by 9.00am.
They expressed eagerness to be part of the experience and many believe other than offer fast and effective transportation, it will boost the tourism sector.
“This is a new beginning for Kenyans as they have an easier and safer way of transport. Even now, other vehicles will reduce their fares since the train will be carrying many people,” one of the passengers said.
“This is my first time to be on board a train and I am happy that I am making history at this moment by boarding and riding in the SGR train,” another stated.
The maiden train named Madaraka Express was set to take off from Miritini station in Mombasa at 9 am, with President Kenyatta and a host of other top government officials on board.
“I think we have started to do it. We still need to do a lot more because people do not know how much it will cost, what time it is going to leave, what are the schedules, a lot of that is work in progress.”
“Comparable to a bus, the level of safety and the level of efficiency is high and that is one advantage of this train.”
The train being launched Wednesday will be transporting up to 1200 passengers daily, charging between Sh1000 to Sh3000 to and from the coastal city.
The new Chinese-built route is aimed at cementing Kenya’s position as the gateway to East Africa and is billed as the biggest infrastructure project since independence, and a key selling point for the ruling Jubilee party ahead of the August elections.
The first cargo train on the SGR tracks carrying more than 150 containers arrived in Nairobi at midnight, having been launched by President Kenyatta in Mombasa.