, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 1 – “Harambee, Harambee, Tuimbe Pamoja…,”went the tunes as history was being made.
It was exactly some 122 years when the ‘lunatic’ railway was launched and on Wednesday, Kenya got a new one in-style, the Madaraka Express.
Everything was set at the magnificent Nairobi Terminus and the presidential dais had been set while Kenyans had settled in their place.
Excitement rent the air as anxious Kenyans awaited for the arrival of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto aboard Madaraka express which had snaked its way through Mombasa and through the Tsavo -the land of elephants.
Why is the Nairobi Terminus outstanding?
It is a ‘green house’ that doesn’t need any power, natural light is enough.
It has been designed in such a way that it is self-air-conditioned, with a glass wall and a roof section.
Other than stairs, the facility has escalators and elevators.
Also notable are the CCTV cameras strategically fitted in the vast facility to ensure security is guaranteed for the train users.
“Madaraka Express marks a transformative moment for Kenya and for the great continent of Africa,” President Kenyatta said after launching the Nairobi terminus.
He said the SGR will lead to massive growth of “all areas it has passed through. It is connected to a fast growing network of roads and the expansion of our ports and airports that we have undertaken in the last four years.”
“Fifty years ago, we embarked on a journey as an independent Kenyan people eager to shape a nation where poverty, ignorance and disease was no more. Africa then was still in the shadows of its former colonial rulers…”
He urged his competitors to “appreciate what is good” and more so the SGR project since it is “about Kenyans.”
“We are all Kenyans at the end of the day and will have a country after the August 8 elections. Kenya is enough for all of us. Let us never shed blood of our own because of politics.”
The Deputy President said the project will revolutionise the economy of the country.
“It is a special event for all of us as Kenyans because we give to ourselves a brand new modern Standard Gauge Railway,” the Deputy President stated.
“This day, on the eve of Madaraka day, we replace the Lunatic Express that was build 122 years ago, that was dabbed a railway going nowhere, with a brand new modern railway that has a purpose to power the engine of our transformation and the industrialization of great country.”
-Threats to SGR-
Those convicted of a capital offence for vandalising the Standard Gauge Railway will be hanged, President Kenyatta warned Wednesday as he launched the passenger train service in Mombasa.
He said people must understand the project does not belong to the Jubilee Government but all Kenyans, including future generations.
“I want to announce today that those who will be prosecuted for destroying Kenyans’ property; for destroying what belongs to our children, I pray for forgiveness from God, but I will sign their death sentence for them to be hanged,” he cautioned.
His declaration came after Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko also warned that those arrested for vandalism will be treated as organised criminal gangs and economic saboteurs.
“Be supportive and help with constructive criticism, so that we can improve and ultimately have what we want which is a world class working railway,” President Kenyatta said.
“There are those who don’t want anything good. They want the government or Uhuru to look bad so that it looks like we have been overwhelmed. But this railway does not belong to Uhuru, Ruto or the government. It has been constructed using money from 45 million Kenyans. It belongs to Kenyans. There is a provision of the law for those who destroy any critical infrastructure and that is economic sabotage which falls under a capital offence. If prosecuted, you go to the death row.”
The Chinese-funded and built railway is the country’s biggest infrastructure project since independence, and while it has courted controversy, it is a key selling point for the ruling Jubilee Party ahead of elections in August.
It is also part of a master plan by East African leaders to connect their nations by rail, with the Standard Gauge Railway planned to eventually link Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, Burundi, and Ethiopia.