A photo on the internet which has since gone viral shows a couple of ladies braiding each other’s hair in the ordinary coach of the overpriced SGR, which was built at the cost of a quarter of the country’s GDP.
In their defense, numerous frequent users of the Chinese run SGR say that the train takes extremely long hours ferrying between Nairobi-Mombasa and vice versa, leaving passengers on the poorly built seats in the ordinary class tired and legs cramped.
The seats resemble those of matatus, which most people can endure due to proximity to their destination. But the SGR is not value for money as even the VIP coach costs 6,000 which is slightly cheaper than airlines which ply the route for sometimes as little as 9,000.
So why is SGR slow despite the seemingly high traffic between Nairobi and Mombasa? For a project that had no professional feasibility study conducted prior to construction, it surely is being run like a matatu sacco as the Chinese management company (with shadowy Kenyan shareholders) are more than happy to mismanage it, because the Kenyan taxpayers will always foot any financial deficits accrued.
Kenya Railways and Kenya Airways share an identical mantra where managements are comfortable not improving customer experience, because whether they make profit or losses, the government will always bail them out.
And just like Kenya Airways where connected families and politicians own the leases for the planes being used by KQ, Kenya Railways has silent Kenyan shareholders who know that whether KR runs one train a week, the debt to China will be repaid come rain or sunshine.
Worth noting is that the SGR joint venture between Kenya Railways, China Road and Bridge Corporation and shadowy Kenyan investors has never made a profit or broken even, 3 years after inauguration. But their costs have been footed by the taxpayer. Lucky bastards!
If for instance you go to the Syokimau SGR station, the tarmac and cabro has begun developing cracks and the pavements haven’t been scrubbed in a long time, with grass growing in between the crevices. The elevators and escalators are switched on depending on the mood of the management because they know they can get away with it.
When it rains, passengers have to content with a long walk to the gate, drenched in water to look for transport out of the overpriced facility. The road leading to the station is itself a shamba, with massive potholes which force one to drive on the wrong side. And worst of all, there’s always an extortionist police road-block where bribes will be extorted from unbeknownst drivers.
To get a ticket, an online booking system is available where you need in the minimum of two weeks advance purchase. Meaning that if you have an emergency, you have to find other means.
The local, politically-connected shareholders of the special purpose vehicle looting money from Kenyan taxpayers are men of small minds and narrow vision. Their infinite stupidity led them to concoct the strategy of manipulated success where the constant rumbling of sold out ticket sales and ticket unavailability would create an illusion of activity, at lesser cost.
You see, these dumb numb-skulls want to make money with the least investment. Meaning just one or two train services per day, yet the taxpayers recompensate for a fully functional and efficient train service, is a win for them.
Ordinarily, there should be a train leaving both Nairobi or Mombasa every hour from 8 am to 5pm. But they want to hoodwink the passengers on the SGR that it’s such a “successful” project because it’s always packed to the brim and there is always a ticket shortage. That way, anytime your MP’s are getting the finance bill, they will be quick to approve the phantom costs being paid to Kenya Railways, and slow to interrogate the fine details.
I don’t know which school these Kenyatta hoodlums attended which told them that every train must be full to capacity. Even matatus plying busy routes like Eastleigh are only full during peak hours. The rest of the day a matatu will be empty and still stick to its schedule. Surely if illiterate matatu cartels can create a semblance of order through logic and common sense, how is it that a bunch of white collar thieves and their Chinese enablers can’t see such economics?
During the formative Jubilee years when the SGR project was being floated, we had initially been promised a top speed of 220kph for the train. Currently, the fastest passenger train to and from Mombasa takes 6 hours. So if speed = distance over time, it means that our 300B SGR moves at a speed of 80KPH.
Which then begs the question, why did we invest in such an expensive undertaking, if it is moving at the speed which is recommended for most roads in Kenya? Shouldn’t we have dualled Mombasa Road instead?
The truth is that the shadowy Kenyan shareholders of the SGR consortium in their infinite wisdom, have conspired with the Chinese to slow the speed down, to create an optical illusion that the train is well spread out and over utilized.
Slowing the speed down, reducing the trains, creating an artificial demand and ticket scarcity is their way of hoodwinking oversight committees of parliament and highly excitable media journalists, from asking the right questions.
Look at Betty Kyallo for instance. You see Daystar didn’t train people to be analytical. It created robots who just go with the flow. Over the weekend, she was at the Coast with her sister taking selfies, instead of interrogating why it takes 6 hours to move between Nairobi and Mombasa, on a project which consumed a quarter of our GDP. A high cost train moving slower than a Probox. Why?
It’s because the shadowy shareholders who are hiding behind Kenya Railways want to create an optical illusion of artificial demand and ticket shortage.
And now they want to convince us that BBI will be the cure for such bureaucratic machinations, as if legislation is the solution to all our problems. Our main problem is corruption and incompetent oversight mechanisms by both parliament and law enforcement.
By now the Kenya Railways management should have been summoned to parliament to explain why they aren’t making any profit, yet they’re always begging for Government bail-outs. Why they haven’t increased frequency of trains to be hourly instead of the two train services. And why they artificially reduce speeds to buy time, tire passengers to create a semblance of full and busy trains, but locking out thousands of other last minute travellers.
Their warped application of economics is also evident with the new Nairobi commuter project where they claim to resolve Kenya’s traffic menace, with just two trains carrying four wagons. And then they call Alex Chamwada and his bogus Chams Media to do nonsensical PR for them. Clowns!
The MD of Kenya Railways and his Chinese co-conspirators should be behind bars for wasting our time with this mediocre SGR project management strategy, tailor made to blackmail treasury into meeting deficit in the same model as the Kenya Airways scam and keeping their costs down in the process.
Even buses have reclinable seats. But the SGR coach is horrible. Seats like for a court-room bench. And you want someone to seat for 6 hours like a robot?