, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 30- Anyone found vandalizing the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) will be treated as an economic saboteur, the Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko has warned.
Tobiko says such people will be charged and prosecuted as organized criminals and will face charges that attract hefty penalties.
“Where evidence warrants, they will be charged with appropriate capital offences,” Tobiko said Tuesday when four suspects arrested in Voi and Mariakani were charged, the same day President Uhuru Kenyatta was set to launch a cargo train from Mombasa to Nairobi.
The suspects were found with large hauls of SGR material–some of which was vandalized from the new railway in Mariakani prompting a major security operation ordered by Inspector General Joseph Boinnet.
Monday’s launch will be followed by the flagging off of the passenger train from Mombasa on Wednesday morning, in what is billed as Kenya’s largest infrastructure project since independence.
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 August elections.
It is also part of a “master plan” by east African leaders to connect their nations by rail, with the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) planned to eventually link Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, Burundi and Ethiopia.
The charges for containerized cargo from the Port of Mombasa to the Inland Container Depot in Nairobi are set at Sh50,000 per container. Other freight will be charged at 0.07 per ton kilometer translating to Sh32,800.
This will result in a 40 percent decline in the cost of cargo transport in comparison to the Sh80,000 to Sh90,000 cost of transporting goods by road between Mombasa and Nairobi.
In addition, the time taken to transport goods will reduce from the current 16 to 24 hours to a maximum of 8 hours.
The Nairobi-Mombasa train has a capacity of 1,200 people with one round trip planned in the initial stage. More trips will be added subject to the demand of the service.
The passenger train services between Nairobi and Mombasa will cost Sh900 for economy class and Sh3000 for first class, according to fares released by the railway management.
The passenger service named Madaraka Express will operate two types of train: the intercity Train and the County train.
The Intercity train is an express train between Nairobi and Mombasa and the County train will make stops at the intermediate stations at Mariakani, Voi, Emali, Kibwezi, Mtoto Andei and Athi River.