President Uhuru Kenyatta has launched the new Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) train dubbed ‘Madaraka Express’ in a colourful ceremony held in Mombasa.
Speaking at the launch Wednesday morning, President Kenyatta said the SGR train will usher in a new dawn in Kenya’s transport and economic sectors.
“Today everyone of us, and our neighbours celebrate a milestone in history. I would like to express my gratitude and that of the people of Kenya to the people of China and their president Xi Jinping for the collaborative support that has resulted and culminated into this day and this celebration.”
Celebrating Madaraka Express
“As we celebrate the 54th Madaraka Day – the day that Kenya attained the freedom to determine their destiny, we also embark on a new chapter in Kenya’s history, a history that was first started 122 years ago when the British who had colonised this nation kicked off the train to nowhere as described by British Parliament…also dubbed the lunatic express.”
“Despite a lot of criticism, we now celebrate, not the Lunatic express but the ‘Madaraka Express’ that will begin to reshape the story of Kenya for the next 100 years. I am proud to be associated with this day.”
He further cautioned Kenyans against vandalising the railway line or facilities in the train saying anyone found guilty with be charged with economic sabotage and sentenced to death by hanging.
In the initial stages, there will only be one train departing from Nairobi to Mombasa, and one from Mombasa to Nairobi with the president promising Kenyans that the schedules will improve in the coming months.
He further noted that fare charges for the economy class must not be more than Ksh700.
The pronouncement seems to be a revocation of Cabinet Secretary James Macharia’s statement last week that it will cost passengers Ksh900 to travel in economy class and Ksh3000 for business class.
Prior to the launch, photographer Michael Khateli took his maiden trip on the SGR train and sought to tell the story, in pictures.
[Photos by Michael Khateli]
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