(Xinhua) -- Carolyne Karugo and six other young women
from Kenya have obtained their assistant train driver course
certificates after a 50-day training in northwest China’s
The seven, who got their certificates
on Monday, are the first group of African female train drivers
trained in China and are expected to start work in June when a
rail line that links Kenya’s capital Nairobi with the port city
of Mombasa opens.
The standard gauge railway stretching
480 km was designed for passenger trains running 120 km per hour
and freight trains at 80 km per hour.
China financed 90 percent of the 3.8
billion U.S. dollar project, with work being carried out by the
China Roads and Bridges Corporation (CRBC). Construction on the
railway began in January 2015.
Being a key construction project under
the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, the railway is the
first new rail line built in Kenya in a century.
Before going to China, Carolyne, 26,
was a tour guide in Kenya. She speaks fluent Chinese after
attending the Confucius Institute in Nairobi and studying in
north China’s Tianjin Municipality as an exchange student.
“A female train driver is more careful
and will take more care of a train,” said Carolyne.
After the training, Carolyne said she
had fully grasped operation standards, driving skills, as well
as the overhaul and maintenance procedures of a China-made
The training was co-organized by a
railway technician college in Shaanxi, and the Southwest
As part of the project, the CRBC said
that a batch of 60 freight trains had been transported to
Mombasa. Seven Chinese teachers specializing in railway
engineering have also left for Nairobi to conduct technical
training for local railway personnel.
Figures show the railway project has
created more than 38,000 jobs, 90 percent for local people.
“There is an old saying in China that
if you teach a man how to fish it is better than to just
give him a fish. We will not only build a railway, but also
train local employees and impart the latest technology,
which is our promise to the Kenyan people,” said an official
with the CRBC branch office in Kenya.
China has helped African countries to
build their railways for many years.
The Tanzania-Zambia Railway (TAZARA)
is a single-track railway in east Africa, built in the 1970s
with the assistance of China.
“The ‘Chinese railway’ brand is
popular in Africa. One of the reasons is that China has
advanced railway construction technology, and Chinese teams
are willing to teach African people the technology, which in
turn helps them find jobs, increase income and improve
living quality,” said Yang Xiangzhen, an online
China has developed the world’s
largest high-speed rail network in just a decade, drastically
shortening travel times for otherwise gruesome cross-country
trips. The high-speed rail line has reached 20,000 km and a
further 10,000 km will be added by 2020, linking more than 80
percent of China’s big cities.
Acnes Mwagagi, one of the seven female
train drivers, said that earlier it took her 20 hours to reach
Nairobi from her home near Mombasa, but now the journey will be
cut to just four hours.