Uhuru launches Madaraka Express SGR amid death warning to vandals


The Standard Gauge Railway (SGR)
The Standard Gauge Railway (SGR)

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday, May 31, launched the much-awaited Standard Gauge Railway commuter train, which has been christened Madaraka Express.

Madaraka Express began its maiden journey to Nairobi with President Kenyatta describing the launch as a “new dawn for Kenya”.

Speaking before launching the service, President Kenyatta said it marked 120 years since the British Government rolled out the first rail network in Kenya.

“We embark today on a new chapter in Kenya’s history when the British kicked off the train, the train that was characterised and criticised by all those in the British Parliament as a train to nowhere but a train that ultimately formed the basis of the new nation of Kenya. It was then known as the Lunatic Express.”

President Kenyatta expressed optimism that the SGR will create new employment opportunities to Kenyans from different regions.

Uhuru further urged Kenyans to refrain from complaining about the project, saying it will benefit all Kenyans, adding that the project should be protected jealously by all Kenyans, failure to which, there will be dire consequences.

The President, most notably, warned those who will be found guilty of vandalising the Standard Gauge Railway will be hanged.

“I want to firmly state today that those who will be prosecuted and found guilty of vandalizing a property (SGR) belonging to all Kenyans; a property belong to our children, forgive me God, I will sign their death sentence for them to be hanged,” cautioned the Head of State.

Uhuru’s statement came after Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Keriako Tobiko, also warned those arrested for vandalism that they will be treated as organised criminal gangs who are bent on sabotaging the country’s economy.

The passenger train services between Nairobi and Mombasa will cost Ksh700 for economy class and Ksh3, 000 for first class, according to fares released by the railways management.

President Kenyatta had on Tuesday, May 30, waved a giant Kenyan flag to flag off the inaugural cargo train of the SGR shortly after 6.00 pm, at Port Reitz in Mombasa, marking a new era where cargo will be moved twice as fast and at a cheaper price.

It took the Government two and half years to accomplish the task of constructing 472 kilometers of the SGR from the port city of Mombasa to the capital city of Nairobi.

The Government has already embarked on extending the SGR to Naivasha then to Kisumu and eventually plans to have the system extended to Kampala and Kigali in Uganda and Rwanda respectively, says the Presidential Strategic Communication Unit (PSCU).

President Kenyatta, who was flanked by Deputy President, William Ruto, and First Lady, Margaret Kenyatta, said every Kenyan should be proud of the Standard Gauge Railway project.

“I call upon all Kenyans whatever their political beliefs to celebrate, today we should be together holding hands in celebrations,” said the President moments after the cargo train pulled alongside the Presidential Dias waiting for the flag off.

“This is the Kenya we seek and this is the Kenya we want our children to inherit from us and their children to inherit from them,” said President Kenyatta.

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Brian Okoth
Story By Brian Okoth
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