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  Home > Exchanges and Dialogues
China-built railway line in Kenya marks first anniversary
2018/06/08

Local performers in traditional Kenyan clothes dance to celebrate the anniversary. [Photo by Liu Hongjie/chinadaily.com.cn]

The Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway built and operated by China Road and Bridge Cooperation (CRBC), a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), on Thursday marked its first passenger service anniversary since its launch in May 31, 2017.

Also known as Madaraka Express, the railway line has transported more than 1.3 million passengers, with the demand increasing daily.

The service's uptake is largely attributed to the numerous benefits it holds over alternative modes of transport such as comfort of the coaches and the reduced travel time between the port city and Nairobi which averages 5.5 hours.

In his speech read by Kenya Railways Managing Director Atanas Maina during a celebratory event held at Nairobi Terminals, James Macharia, the cabinet secretary, Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development, hailed the one year operations as having surpassed expectations with the future looking brighter.

"The service has presented new opportunities for Kenyans by creating jobs and technology transfer while helping in navigating transport challenges which had partly hindered Kenya from fully realizing its domestic potential," he said.

Macharia said the service has positively impacted the tourism industry by encouraging growth of domestic tourism.

Passengers take photos at the anniversary. [Photo by Liu Hongjie/chinadaily.com.cn]

"According to the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB), bed occupancy has increased to more that 90 percent up from 50 percent in previous years, a factor largely attributed to Madaraka Express," he said.

Speaking during the same event, Guo Ce, the economic and commercial counsellor at the Chinese embassy in Kenya, congratulated the team involved in the operation of the SGR for their contribution to the success of the project as well as strengthening China-Kenya friendship.

"The SGR team of 3,000 Kenyan and 800 Chinese professionals and workers has demonstrated their professionalism and the sense of social responsibility. Their great efforts have earned the recognition of the Kenyan people," he said.

Guo said SGR was only one example of fast growing China-Kenya cooperation noting that the bilateral economic cooperation between the two countries has accelerated from the traditional trade and construction to manufacturing and investment, over the years.

"More and more Chinese companies have increased their investment and fulfilled their social responsibility. This is highly consistent with 'Big Four' Agenda proposed by President Kenyatta," he said.

Ambassador Sun Baohong (Second from left) cutes a cake to celebrate the anniversary. [Photo by Liu Hongjie/chinadaily.com.cn]

Guo said the Chinese embassy and Chinese companies in Kenya will continue to support and participate in the country's development plans.

Chen Yun, vice-president, CCCC, said SGR is not only an engine for Kenya's economic development but also a project that brings real benefits to people.

During the past year of SGR operation, Chen said they received great support, attention and help from both Chinese and Kenyan governments and all social sectors.

"We feel indebted to the Kenyan president and government departments especially the ministry of transport, Kenya Railways, Kenya Ports Authority, for their great support in facilitating smooth operation of SGR," he said.

Mary Oyuke, manager, corporate affairs at Kenya Railways, said despite initial teething problems, Kenya Railways together with CRBC worked and still work tirelessly to continue improving the services.

"I can proudly say that our passengers can now travel without the hustle that was experienced before within the transport industry," she said.

Oyuke said they will continue to work diligently with other transport infrastructure partners to ensure that they deliver real benefits in terms of addressing challenges of traffic jams, pollution or even delayed and sometimes lost business opportunities.

Counselor Guo Ce delivers a speech at the anniversary. [Photo by Liu Hongjie/chinadaily.com.cn]

This is in addition to supporting business interaction, connecting people to jobs, opening up new markets for companies, increasing competition and productivity and widening the labor market.

"Our commitment is that we shall effectively and efficiently play our critical role in providing viable transport in the country, even as we proceed with the remaining phases of the SGR project and subsequent Madaraka Express operations," Oyuke said.

Meanwhile, Kenya Railways is working together with CRBC, to fast track even more developments on the service in order to ensure it remains the top choice for travelers using the Mombasa-Nairobi route.

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