The Chinese-built standard-gauge railway (SGR) linking Kenya’s port city Mombasa to its capital Nairobi witnessed 1,500 days of safe operation on Friday, a milestone marking the achievements of joint development between China and African countries via the Belt and Road Initiative.
A statement from the SGR operator released in Nairobi on Friday said the modern train service has been at the forefront of Kenya’s socio-economic transformation in the last four years since its operationalization, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Saturday.
“SGR’s transportation indicators and its increasingly important social significance have also earned the approval of freight owners and passengers,” said Africa Star Railway Operation Company Limited (AfriStar) that operates the SGR.
The Mombasa-Nairobi Railway connects Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, and Mombasa, the largest port in East Africa, with a total length of about 480 kilometers. It is a modern railway constructed with Chinese standards, Chinese technology, and Chinese equipment.
According to AfriStar, the Mombasa-Nairobi SGR is also boosting Kenya’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by ensuring that delivery of critical supplies is not interrupted.
A total of 5,415,000 passengers have been ferried between Nairobi and Mombasa in the last 1,500 days since the SGR commenced operations and the operator estimates 1.8 million commuters could use the service this year, according to Xinhua.
The operator said 1,500 days marked safe, efficient, and quality operation of both the SGR passenger and cargo service. But the operator still considers enhancing safety as the key work of the railway operation.
Staff members have been trained to ensure risk to the passenger and cargo is mitigated to the lowest level possible.
“Through case education on railway accidents in China and other countries, staff safety awareness and quality are greatly enhanced,” said the operator.
According to AfriStar, the staff has been trained to boost the safety of equipment and enforce environmental protection measures along the SGR corridor that include pristine wildlife sanctuaries.
The operator has developed guidelines to boost the safety of railway operations and in 2020 alone spent $2.8 million to improve public security through the acquisition of cutting-edge technology and hiring of personnel.
The Mombasa-Nairobi SGR, which replaced the meter-gauge railway that was constructed more than 100 years ago during British colonial rule, has been an important product that came out of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in late 2015.
The Mombasa-Nairobi SGR is the first step in the grand plan to build an East Africa railway network that will eventually link Kenya with Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.