The train has attained an occupancy rate of over 95 percent
while reducing the time spent connecting Kenya’s two biggest
cities by half, from 10 hours to five.
The distance is 480 km.
An estimated 1.3 million Kenyans have commuted between
Nairobi and Mombasa by the SGR train since its launch one year
ago, according to statistics released by Kenya Railways
Corporation on Thursday.
Meanwhile, about 45,000 20-feet equivalent units of cargo
have been transported via the SGR cargo service since Dec. 1,
2017, sparing entrepreneurs a colossal amount of cost compared
with road transportation.
In the past year, the SGR train has revolutionized the
movement of people, goods and services in the country, according
to Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure
The China-funded modern railway is estimated to have boosted
the African country’s GDP by 1.5 percent and have provided
46,000 jobs to locals.
About 300 domestic enterprises were sub-contracted during its
construction, according to official figures.
Chen Yun, vice president of China Communications Construction
Company (CCCC), the SGR contractor, said at Thursday’s
anniversary event that the SGR project has been an integral part
of Kenya’s socio-economic transformation that has benefited
The Madaraka Express also witnessed the advent of the
nation’s first batch of modern railway talents, including
"Up to now, the SGR operation business has trained 1,600
Kenyan railway professionals," Chen said.
The launch of the modern railway revitalized China-Kenya
bilateral relations, serving as an embodiment of Beijing’s true
partnership with East Africa’s largest economy.
A survey conducted by a leading polling firm Ipsos in April
revealed that China has become the most favored development
partner by Kenyans thanks to Beijing’s robust involvement in
their country’s economic development.
Raphael Tuju, secretary general of the ruling Jubilee Party,
said in a recent interview with Xinhua that Kenya and other
African countries regard China as a strategic partner in their
quest to boost trade and infrastructure development.
"If you ask any Kenyan about China, the first thing that
crosses their mind is the standard gauge railway linking Mombasa
and Nairobi, and Guangzhou, where Kenyans go to buy clothes and
other items," said Tuju.
Kenya’s budding entrepreneurs agreed that the SGR has not
only promoted China’s image in the country but has also been
instrumental in transforming regional commerce.
Shadrack Kimeu, a 30-year-old owner of a hardware shop, said
that his revenue streams have expanded thanks to faster,
cheaper, and more efficient means of transportation for
construction materials guaranteed by the SGR.
In a speech read on his behalf by Managing Director of Kenya
Railways Corporation Atanas Maina on Thursday, Macharia said
that the Madaraka Express has unleashed huge benefits to
critical sectors of the economy such as manufacturing and
tourism besides enhancing technology transfer.
The cabinet secretary for transport and infrastructure added
that both the train and the SGR freight service launched in
December last year are crucial in driving the country’s Big Four
Agenda along with the pursuit of regional integration.
The development agenda, launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta
last year, includes food security, manufacturing, affordable
housing and universal health care.
Lilian Awinja, executive director of the East African
Business Council, said that traders from Kenya, Uganda, South
Sudan and northern Tanzania are now able to import and export
goods without a hitch thanks to the SGR.
"The SGR has reduced the travel time for imports and exports
out of the East African region," Awinja said at a recent
business roundtable in Nairobi.
She added that the SGR has improved logistics while reducing
the cost of transporting bulk goods in the region.
The launch of SGR commuter and freight services was hailed by
policymakers, investors and experts as a giant step towards the
creation of a formidable regional market for goods, services,
technologies and skills.
The mega infrastructure project, which was implemented by
China Road and Bridge Corporation, affiliated with the CCCC, is
also deemed as an early result of the China-proposed Belt and
Road Initiative aiming to build trade and infrastructure
networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the
ancient Silk Road routes.
Gerishon Ikiara, an international economics lecturer at the
University of Nairobi, said that the modern commuter and cargo
trains will promote growth, prosperity and cohesion in the
larger eastern African region.