, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 31 – The first Standard Gauge Railway passenger train will take off from Mombasa Wednesday morning, signaling a new dawn in Kenya’s modern infrastructure development.
The maiden train named Madaraka Express will take off from Miritini station in Mombasa at 9am, with President Uhuru Kenyatta and a host of other top government officials on board.
The new Chinese-built railway is aimed at cementing Kenya’s position as the gateway to East Africa and is billed as the biggest infrastructure project since independence and a key selling point for the ruling Jubilee Party ahead of the August elections.
The first cargo train on the SGR tracks carrying more than 150 containers arrived in Nairobi at midnight, having been launched by President Kenyatta earlier at Port Reitz in Mombasa.
With the unveiling of the new railway’s cargo operations in Mombasa Tuesday afternoon, Kenyans and the more than the 300 million residents of the region are set to reap the benefits of efficient transportation of cargo.
President Kenyatta waved a giant Kenyan flag to flag off the inaugural cargo train of the SGR shortly after 6pm, marking a new era where cargo will be moved twice as fast and at a cheaper price.
The ceremony was witnessed by thousands of Kenyans together with delegations and representatives from across the world.
The image of President Kenyatta waving the Kenyan flag to launch the modern service will forever remain etched in the memory of Kenyans who aspire to see their nation take its place in the new world order of the 21st century.
It took the Jubilee Government two and half years – less than the originally given time and less than the original budget – to accomplish the task of constructing 472 kilometers of the SGR from the port city of Mombasa to the capital city of Nairobi in the country’s interior.
The government has already embarked on extending the SGR to Naivasha then to Kisumu and eventually plans to have the system extended to Kampala and Kigali in Uganda and Rwanda respectively.
President Kenyatta, who was accompanied by Deputy President William Ruto and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, said every Kenyan should be proud of the Standard Gauge Railway.
“I call upon all Kenyans whatever their political beliefs to celebrate, today we should be together holding hands in celebrations,” he said.
“This is the Kenya we seek and this is the Kenya we want our children to inherit from us and their children to inherit from them,” he stated.
President Kenyatta said the SGR will make the Port of Mombasa more efficient and will enhance the performance of the facility where the Jubilee Government has invested more than Sh60 billion in the last four years.
“The foundations we lay today will lead us to a new chapter of industrialisation.”