Dry taps and full seats at the Standard Gauge Railway

Dry taps and full seats at the Standard Gauge Railway

‘Travel from Nairobi from Mombasa in four hours!’ Sounds like a great prospect, doesn’t it? And it is. Apart from air travel, which is not a reality for many Kenyans, being on the road for nearly half a day in a cramped hot space is not the easiest image to digest. So the Madaraka Express was launched on Madaraka Day.o less and as with any innovation, it’s a bumpy ride to get things going smoothly.

No less and as with any innovation, it’s a bumpy ride to get things going smoothly.

Even though any respite is welcome from the usual road journey and break from our congested roads, the SGR looks like it’s still trying to get on its feet. Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua, gave a mixed review of his first trip on the train; there was some good to go with the bad. Expressing his excitement for the trip and the scale of the Nairobi terminus, his mood quickly turned when he boarded the train and took a closer look at the washrooms.

“The station’s toilets are brand new, good, but in a mark of shame, had no water (despite the station being new). The ladies toilet had water spilled everywhere on the floor but the taps were dry and the stench was starting to build. I hope Gen. Kianga, Chairman of Kenya Railways and able CEO Atanas Maina will move with speed and have no mercy as they take care of this Third World mentality failure common in Africa,” he wrote. Well, we are technically going through a drought so maybe that might explain away the sorry state of the toilets. But there is also a great chance that the washrooms would have still been a mess, drought notwithstanding.

Local media reports that the connection between road and rail is a bit shaky as traffic has kept passengers from gaining access to the train in Mombasa. While the road system remains as it is, deplorable, travelers “have been caught up in traffic snarl-ups as trucks avoiding traffic between Changamwe and Miritini section of Mombasa-Nairobi highway block motorists ferrying passengers to the terminus,” Nairobi News reports.

It is worth noting that although the Standard Gauge Railway is a step forward, the roads that we do have access to and are used by the majority of commuters are not in tiptop shape. The Standard Gauge Railway does ease the burden of the long haul from Nairobi to Mombasa and vice versa but it is not one that people use every day.

 

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