by Naftali Mwaura
NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- More than three
million passengers have travelled between the Kenyan capital of
Nairobi and the port city of Mombasa using the Standard Gauge
Railway (SGR) commuter train, officials said on Friday.
James Macharia, cabinet secretary in the Ministry of Transport
and Infrastructure, said at an event to mark the second
anniversary since the launch of SGR passenger service dubbed
Madaraka Express that it has impacted positively on livelihoods.
"The service has presented new opportunities for Kenyans
through job creation and technology transfer while helping in
navigating transport challenges which had partly hindered Kenya
from fully realizing its domestic potential," said Macharia.
He said that Madaraka Express has injected vitality into
strategic sectors of the Kenyan economy like tourism,
agriculture and manufacturing.
"According to Kenya Tourism Board, bed occupancy has
increased to more than 90 percent up from 50 percent in previous
years, a factor largely attributable to the Madaraka Express,"
Guo Ce, economic and commercial counselor at the Chinese
Embassy in Kenya, said the SGR which is a critical component of
the Belt and Road Initiative, has promoted bilateral cooperation
between Beijing and east Africa’s largest economy.
The SGR train service that was recently listed among 13 best
rail tours in the world was launched on May 31, 2017 by
President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Li Jiuping, general manager of SGR Operator, said it has for
the last two years offered seamless, affordable and secure mode
of transporting passengers and goods.
"Currently, two pairs of passenger trains are in daily
operation, with average seat occupancy at above 90 percent,"
He said the SGR Operator has prioritized technical transfer
and recruitment of local personnel to run key departments.
Philip Mainga, acting managing director of Kenya Railways
Corporation (KRC), said that the SGR commuter train has in the
last two years evolved its mode of operation to boost safety,
efficiency and customer satisfaction.