By Newton Karanja
Though the cost of constructing the standard gauge railway (SGR) was deliberately doubled, it’s turning out that SGR has lots of benefits than otherwise.
The phase 1 of the Standard Gauge Railway from Mombasa to Nairobi saw 472km of track completed, 56 Locomotives were procured and by August 2019, they added more due to the demand of the passengers, 33 stations of which 9 are state of the art passenger terminals were constructed, 1,620 freight wagons and 40 passenger coaches were procured, 60 railway engineers undergoing through training in China and 400 diploma holders taken through railway courses, 30,000 Kenyans employed and Ksh82 billion local content value.
It’s worth noting that one freight train, takes five hours between Mombasa and Nairobi on the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) and has the capacity to gobble up cargo that would ordinarily require 150 trucks to haul over the same distance. In 2019 alone, the SGR Cargo moved 347,335 tonnes on average every month, the train spares the Nairobi-Mombasa highway all that weight every month, imagine that. Meaning that if everything else remains constant, the highway should last much longer because of the wear and tear brought by the trucks being on the road. That brings down to the high cost required to repair our roads significantly.
On average, the number of passengers transported by the SGR per day stands at 4,190 between Nairobi and Mombasa. To transport the same number of passengers by road would require seventy 60-sitter buses daily.
These buses would, of course, have to share the two-lane highway with heavy trucks, personal cars and other public transport vehicles that ply shorter routes. Remember that some of our drivers are slow, some are careless, some vehicles are unroadworthy meaning they keep breaking down and hence piling traffic. So having SGR Passenger train means a significant number of vehicles off the road.
Now, when you combine SGR Cargo and SGR Passenger train, you reduce too much congestion on our roads because some trucks are also very slowly driven and others breakdown and hence piling even more traffic.
This also favours our environment, there is less pollution, using SGR as opposed to the above number of vehicles and trucks, you reduce Carbon emission by 80%. Which further reduces the number of health cases brought by airborne diseases. Not to mention the damages caused by tampering with our ozone layer.
SGR also significantly reduces the number of accidents brought by stalled trucks and carelessly driven PSVs. Bear in mind the reduction of spread of HIV brought by the prostitution that targets the truck drivers.
So SGR is here to help and instead of fighting and complaining, let’s appreciate it because it holds the key to freeing up our roads.
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