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How the SGR will boost our economy as Kiambu, Thika residents.

President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday launched the historic first cargo train on the Sh327 billion Standard Gauge Railway in Mombasa. The 472km Mombasa-Nairobi phase of the SGR is biggest infrastructural project in East and Central Africa.

The last launch of a similar project was on November 30, 1895, some 122 years ago.
He will today lead some 300 people on the first ride from Mombasa to Nairobi on the SGR, among them 47 pupils who will undergo a crash program in ICT learning aboard the train and sit assessment tests at the end of the 472-km journey.

Kenyans will pay only Sh. 900 for economy train rides between Nairobi and Mombasa under the ‘Madaraka Express’ service that will begin in June with the ‘First class’ rides costing Sh. 3,000. Buses on the route currently charge about Sh. 1,200 for economy, Sh. 1,800 for VIP and Sh. 2,300 for business class.

How they will operate.

The passenger service will operate two types of trains - intercity and county. Two of the trains, one from Mombasa and the other from Nairobi, will run a daily express service between the two cities. The third train will be an inter-county one that will make stops subject to passenger availability at the stations along the line.

The tickets will be electronic, enabling the personnel running the inter-county train to schedule the stops. There are seven main stations on the line and more than 30 smaller ones which will definitely benefit local residents.

The intercity option will see trains operate between the cities with the county option will make stops at Mariakani, Maisenyi, Voi, Mtito Andei, Kibwezi, Emali and Athi River.

Intercity trains have a capacity of 1,200 and will take four and a half hours while the county train will take about five and a half hours. The SGR daily passenger capacity will be 3,600 or about 70 buses.

Charges for containerised cargo from the Port of Mombasa to the Inland Container Depot in Nairobi have been set at $500 (Sh. 51,675). Other freight will cost Sh. 32,800 to transport.

This will result in a 40% decline in the cost of cargo transport in comparison to the $800 (Sh. 80,000) to $900 (Sh. 90,000) cost of transporting goods by road between Mombasa and Nairobi.

But what does this development mean to our economy?

With a total of 33 stations, two main stations (Mombasa and Nairobi), seven intermediate and 24 crossing stations between the cities, both freight and passenger services are set to operate simultaneously and seamlessly. Passenger trains will be given right of way.

The SGR is expected to reduce transport costs, compared to road transport, especially as volume increases, shorten the distance between Nairobi and Mombasa and facilitate efficient cargo transportation. The amount of time taken to transport goods will decline from 16 to 24 hours to a maximum of eight.

This new development will definitely kick-start business, strengthen trade routes and safely connect people from all corners of our country. As the urban centres along the SGR grow, the hinterlands around them too will get a ripple effect. The SGR will go a long way to solving several pressing challenges that the Kenyan economy faces.

The improved capacity that will emanate from this project and better connectivity between Mombasa and the inlands will boosts trade and create growth and prosperity.

Kiambu County.

The iconic SGR track to Nairobi has already warmed up the hearts of traders within the Mt. Kenya Region, particularly those living within Kiambu County.

The SGR train service is seen as a crucial link for traders as it connects the ports to the county circuit in just five hours, offering an excellent option to flying. This will be a big boost to the business considering the lower cost of travel and easy connectivity.

There is growing optimism that the region will become more attractive and competitive as a commercial and business hub. The railway will help traders in the region move goods and services faster and cheaply to and from the coastal region thus enhancing both imports and exports.

For instance, it will now be possible for a trader to leave Thika and comfortably travel to Mombasa port in just a few hours and be back with their goods on the same day.

The speedy train journeys will also offer excellent moments for travel fanatics out to explore the country and in return gather new ideas which they will bring back to their community as investment opportunities.

In the larger scheme of things, produce from this region shall attract better prices since transportation shall have improved. There shall be new markets for new products which will be readily made available to other parts of the country and abroad.

The SGR will decongest the ports, lower road accidents, open up the interior, avail employment opportunities, boost the economy, attract foreign and local investments, rejuvenate rural livelihoods and it shall boost tourism.  It will cut transport costs and boost industrial production as our local industries access raw materials and transport processed goods at lower costs, thus enabling their finished goods to compete effectively at the local and international markets.

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