Last month, on June 1, Kenyans welcomed the new Standard Gauge Railway trains which were officially unveiled by President Uhuru Kenyatta who was part of the maiden trip from Mombasa to Nairobi.
The project, although costing an arm and a leg, has changed the Kenyan transport sector, as thousands of people now enjoy the reduced time and fares that was the hectic and lengthy trip to and from the coastal city of Mombasa.
Kenyans are excited with the mega project, and that’s not a secret, even as the Jubilee government use it in the ongoing campaigns as a flagship development project. Travellers had shunned the beat up smokey trains that normally took twelve hours. The same trip now takes just four and a half hours.
The old tracks were installed by Indians over a hundred years ago and the trains were christened the Lunatic Express perhaps a hint of what passengers felt when travelling in them. The new ones manufactured by the Chinese, they guys also responsible for the state of the art railway, are the exact opposite and have been nicknamed the Madaraka Express meaning freedom.
Travelling at speeds of up to 160Km/h, the SGR trains are by far the fastest means of land transport in the country. Unless of course you want to step on the gas pedal of your sports car and deal with the traffic cops later.
But machines will always be machines and one of the trains yesterday, Wednesday, July 12, became a concern of an earlier excited commuters, after it experienced mechanical hitches, causing panic among the passengers on board.
The Nairobi-bound SGR for some reasons, decided to halt at Kibwezi for close to an hour, forcing passengers to wait for a rescue locomotive.
The train was however fixed moments later and it progressed to the Simba Station in Makueni County without experiencing any further glitches.