Late September 2018, I travelled to Mombasa for some work assignment. This time round, I used the Standard Gauge Railway Service, commonly referred to as SGR or Madaraka Express. It was a first-time experience and my curiosity was at its highest. I wanted to experience everything that comes with riding on the SGR that I had heard people talk about, especially comfort and speed.
Luckily, my expectations were met. I arrived in Mombasa in five hours and did not feel fatigued. This was great and it meant that I could go on to deliver other work related assignments. I reflectively looked back at my previous travels to Mombasa – 12 hours fatigue-filled road trip and appreciated the SGR.
As rightfully observed by the International Railway Journal, SGR passenger train service has reduced travel time between Mombasa and Nairobi to five hours for passengers and eight for freight trains thus significantly “reducing travel time between the two cities from the current 15 hours to four and making a considerable impact on transport and activities.”
As of May 2018, when the SGR marked its first anniversary, Kenya Railways reported that about 1.3 million passengers had used the train since it was flagged off by President Uhuru Kenyatta, in May 2017. Within the same period, 600,000 tonnes of cargo had been moved between Mombasa and Nairobi. This was a major milestone for the ambitious project which gobbled up slightly over KSh300 billion and now stands as the largest infrastructure project since Kenya gained independence.
Cambridge dictionary defines infrastructure as the basic systems and services, such as transport and power supplies, that a country or organisation uses in order to work effectively. It includes administrative, telecommunications, transportation, utilities and waste removal and processing facilities. Some definitions also include education, healthcare, research and development.
Good infrastructure in Kenya, SGR included, is vital for economic development. It makes it necessary for various business activities to take place, increases productivity and allow a faster flow of information, goods and service. It is a vital enabler for continued economic growth and contributes to a large extent the human development, reduction of poverty and achievement of the country’s economic goals.
As the SGR train service has demonstrated within the last one year, when there is development of efficient infrastructure in the country, there is increased turnaround in productivity, creation of newer business opportunities and opening up of remote areas of the country for growth and development. By so doing, the country will inch closer to attaining Vision 2030 whose aim is to make Kenya a new industrialising and middle-income economy by 2030.
Sammi Nderitu is the Editor and Photographer, Management Magazine. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org