NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 6 – Buses ferrying passengers from Nairobi to Mombasa route are experiencing losses after the introduction of the new passenger Standard Gauge Railway train service dubbed Madaraka Express.
The bus operators say they have lost close to 40 percent of their business to the train service that is now ferrying about 3000 passengers daily between Nairobi and Mombasa.
Chania Special Bus Company Accounts Manager James Makau told Capital FM Business that they have had to lower their fares to Sh700 from over Sh1, 000 in a bid to compete with the passenger train.
“We have decided to lower our charges and match those of the SGR. A time like this last year, we were charging Sh900 to Sh1,000, and the price of fuel is still the same. Overall the net income has gone down,” Makau said.
Other operators have resulted in job cuts as they seek to stay afloat.
“Business has really gone down since the introduction of the SGR. Our company has had to fire people as it is currently not making enough money to sustain a huge workforce,” Hassan Hamisi, an operator at the Classic Bus Company said.
Hamisi added that the company has had days when it does not have any meaningful business, and when it does, it barely has a full house.
Some bus owners have had to adjust their operations and look elsewhere for business, as is the case for Chania and other companies. A source at Nairobi’s Tea room bus stop told Capital Business that some bus owners have bought new number plates and moved to Tanzania and Uganda.
There, however, were respondents who said that the introduction of the SGR has not affected their operations.
“Many people say that we have been affected but for us, nothing has changed. A majority of our loyal customers come to us because of our service offering,” Bwana Rashid, an operator at Tahmeed Bus Company said.
The SGR has found favour upon many travelers having ferried 7,000 people in its first week of operations, and 75,000 passengers in its first month of operations.
The Madaraka Express is currently operating with scheduled passenger trains from Nairobi and Mombasa running on a daily basis.