PRESIDENT KIBAKI SET TO LAUNCH COMMUTER RAIL AT SYOKIMAU
Tuesday’s launch of the long awaited commuter rail services in Nairobi, on the stretch from Syokimau to the central Nairobi railway station, will signal relief for thousands of people who have hitherto been stuck in traffic jams for anywhere between an hour and a half to three and more each day.
The cost too seems attractive with a one way ticket for the entire 18 km stretch of commuter rail selling at 100 Kenya Shillings and up to 3.000 parking spaces, supposedly secure, will add another bonus to switch from car to rail when going into the city to work. The added cost of the final mile commute to and from the railway station to the office and back will still leave a net saving in people’s pockets, considering the wear and tear of the car use and the fuel wasted in jams, besides the gain in terms of time.
The Nairobi commuter rail project is due to be expanded in coming years to also include the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and a cross city link to capture other catchment areas from where tens of thousands of people come to the city every day for work, shopping or other reasons. The overall cost of the new mass transit system, with stations around the city, is estimated to cost at least 300 million US Dollars.
Six trains have been refurbished for the new transport option, able to carry as many as 20.000 commuters a day in each direction, operating on a broad schedule between presently 7 am and about 7 pm according to information received from Nairobi. While the new service will initially be operated by RVR, the Kenya government is actively seeking alternative operators, clearly disgruntled with RVR’s performance in the rail cargo sector but also shy to cancel the existing passenger services concession which will still run for a further two years. Deloitte, an international consultancy and audit firm, is assisting the Kenya government in the search for a new viable and capable company which can according to information at hand also become part of a private public partnership with direct investments, not just management expertise.
Meanwhile will President Kibaki’s legacy of major transport infrastructure be further enhanced and cemented when he later today opens the new railway station at Syokimau and sets the wheels rolling. Watch this space.