Standard Gauge Railway comes with a package of goodies

Written by
Dr Ayub Macharia

The Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) has been under construction for quite some time now in Kenya. We are told that laying of the rail from Mombasa to Nairobi is over 80% complete. Surely, if you take a ride to Mombasa by road, you will see the enthusiasm that this project exudes. There is a lot of excavations and land filling that is going on, indicating that this is a huge investment.
The rail line is fast approaching Nairobi having passed through various counties, towns and urban centers all the way from Mombasa. Looking at the progress, it is felt that the railway will bring various transformations to the people living around the designed area where the railway lays.
Without any doubt, the SGR has already created numerous employment opportunities for both skilled and unskilled labour. Having it pass through various towns towards Nairobi and past, the residents living in these areas are optimistic that there will be job opportunities created for them. As much as the project requires high expertise in skilled labour, the unskilled labour is required to help in manual operations as casual workers. Through employment, it is evident that those involved will improve their living standards from the income gained, thus contributing to the overall GDP of the country. As long-term results, it is expected that other job opportunities will emerge due to operationalization of the project especially at the train terminals.
As the railway finds its way towards Nairobi, there has been a great boost in businesses. These include small-scale businesses like food vendors (vibanda), which are frequented with casual labourers constructing the rail. Other businesses like guesthouses, entertainment joints and eating places have already benefitted from the construction workers.
With various terminals being erected at different towns, more businesses will emerge as there will be more people in these areas especially the passengers. It is possible that old towns and centres will be revived by the availability of the railway due to enhanced accessibility. All these result to an economic boost and better living standards to the locals.
The SGR is expected to convey the fastest moving trains in the country. Thus we expect more goods to be transported with ease and reliability. Due to its huge capacity, the SGR will provide cheaper and faster means of transport. Hence most perishable goods such as sukuma wiki from Kimende and Wangige areas in Central Kenya will reach Kongowea market in Mombasa on time and in good condition.
Other than just goods, the project will ease transportation considering its fast speed. Hence it will be tempting to opt for a spectacular ride from Nairobi to Mombasa taking lesser time onboard the train compared to the road transport means that we are using at the moment.
All of us agree how irritating it is spending better part of our days on our roads due to traffic congestions. The SGR comes as a solution to the traffic jams, giving alternative means of transport hence we ultimately expect a reduction in traffic congestion experienced on our roads leading to major towns. The heavy commercial vehicles carrying tonnes and tonnes of goods flock our highways with the notorious one being Mombasa-Nairobi-Nakuru highway that is often at a standstill due to more lorries using the road. The train wagons are expected to carry more goods thus reducing congestion as well as helping maintain the state of our roads.
With the high rising numbers of accidents occurring in the country, which in most cases are fatal leading to an alarming number of people losing lives or being left seriously injured, we all hope that SGR provides a solution. As we know, most accidents are caused due to fatigued drivers who drive for long hours and distances with no rest. Careless driving and other factors have caused many accidents especially during festive seasons as the drivers are on haste to do more trips. We expect that the SGR will knock most trucks from our roads and hence reduce the risk of accidents by fatigued drivers. Trains are known to rarely cause accidents hence the SGR will come in handy in ensuring safety for those who could have used road transport. In this regard, the train may be a best bet mode of transport for families going for Christmas holidays.
All said and done the SGR is expected to bring massive development in towns, centres and rural areas, as it will open up new business dynamics and markets for farm produce. The individuals constructing the rail and anyone offering any services to them are already benefitting from SGR project.

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