Kenya’s SGR yet to have ef­fect on small towns

The East African - - OPINION -

KENYA’S CEL­E­BRATED stan­dard gauge rail­way has been cel­e­brated as a flag­ship project and and a pil­lar of the coun­try’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

How­ever, one year af­ter com­ple­tion, there are signs that it will neg­a­tively af­fect towns along the rail­way and kill the growth sup­ported by the road trans­port and its rip­ple ef­fect.

The de­vel­op­ment of satel­lite towns along the busy Nairobi-mom­basa High­way such Mari­akani and Emali have now been di­min­ished even with the pres­ence of mod­ern train sta­tions.

The busi­ness stem­ming from the road trans­port like ho­tels, ac­com­mo­da­tion and hawk­ing, once the main­stay of these towns, are not con­nected and to the ser­vices of­fered by the train sta­tions.

The night travel, a fea­ture of the high­way, will be af­fected too and so too will the 24-hour econ­omy that was grow­ing as a re­sult of night travel by busses and trans­porters. Trav­ellers are now opt­ing for the day rail trans­port and this has re­duced the fre­quency of bus trans­port.

In the same vein, the bus op­er­a­tors and drivers will re­duce their op­er­a­tions to nor­mal sched­ul­ing hence a loss of jobs. This is con­trary to the gov­ern­ment’s agenda of mil­lions of jobs cre­ation ac­cru­ing from the rail­way de­vel­op­ment.

For the rail trans­port to be ef­fec­tive and serve the coun­try and the re­gion, it should be re­stricted to cargo. Let the other busi­ness peo­ple like those in the trans­port in­dus­try cre­ate jobs and boost the econ­omy.

A good in­vest­ment boosts and com­ple­ments what al­ready ex­ists and cre­ates oth­ers, some­thing I wish the stan­dard gauge rail­way would do. Christo­pher Okinda Via e-mail

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