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The SGR experience: Traveller narrates ordeal on Madaraka Express

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It’s exactly a week since the launch of the passenger train on the Standard Gauge Railway between Mombasa and Nairobi. The train caused excitement and eased travel between the two cities, both in terms of time taken and cost.

Now it’s takes as low as Ksh700 for the journey, down from Ksh1,000 charged by commercial buses playing the route. The time has shrunk from eight hours to just 4 hours.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and some government officials took the SGR’s maiden ride, and that promised great service. But as a Kenyan who recently used the train reports, it’s not all rosy on the train and rail, which cost the country over Ksh300 billion.

Rhoda Tsuma Mwebesa, who gave her experience report through Facebook, gives a grim feedback that has more negative than positives, indicating that there more homework for government and the company running the passenger service.

This is her take:

No point buying a first-class ticket: She says there is no priority ticketing office, nor check in check in. “Everyone is huddled like cattle irrespective of what you paid,” she says. Economy ride costs Ksh700 while business class goes for Ks3000.

Rhoda Tsuma Mwebesa

They keep time: “I liked this. I am a stickler to time,” she says. “Many people were left behind, because they couldn’t keep time. Crying to deaf years about traffic.”

See Also: New fare schedule gives free and cheaper rides to some groups

They were not ready to launch: Rhoda says the restaurants at the station and in the train are not open yet. Carry your food and drinks from home.

No priority for children or elderly: No help either.

Still analogue: They don’t take cards or M-Pesa for ticket payment: Carry cash or go to hell, she notes.

Where do I go?: No signage for directions to the railway stations: One could easily get lost. Signage on the highway would help.

Greasing palms: Corruption has reared its ugly head already: Askaris at the station pre-buy tickets in bulk, then sell them outside the station at a premium. “I saw a Chinese family find their way through to the train without paying,” Rhoda alleges.  “They had no tickets and so the Kenyan security team told them to go buy tickets. They rudely told them off and said that they can speak Chinese to the superiors. Long story,,,,,,but I was thoroughly upset about the whole scene.”

More trips, please: On Friday and Sunday they might need to have to trips from either side, she notes.

Go digital: Online ticketing is needed asap.

Foreign expats? “Why do we have Chinese folk doing jobs Kenyans can do like ticketing? They should at least learn English and Swahili before doing some of those non-technical jobs,” she says.

Loose manners: Kenyans need to learn how to use public toilets: Guys are filthy!!!

Next Read: Journalists mourn icon city watering hole

Great sights: The views on the way are the best one will ever experience in Kenya. The elephants in Tsavo are right at arm’s length. Our country’s flora and fauna are unmatched.

Every Kenyan should try the ride. If you have relatives who cannot afford the Ksh700, please be kind and give them a gift. The train is a good thing for this country and especially commuters who have been fleeced by bus and air companies.

All the above things can be sorted out in less than a day. Looking forward to having the line go to serve our bothers and sisters in Northern Kenya, Western and Uasin Gishu areas.


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BT Correspondent
BT Correspondenthttp://www.businesstoday.co.ke
editor [at] businesstoday.co.ke
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