The Successes and Challenges of Kenya’s Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway Transport Operations: A Special Reference to the Users

Nancy Muthoni Githaiga


This article examined the successes and challenges of Kenya’s standard gauge railway for users in transport operations. The constrained operations in Kenya’s existing colonial railway system have contributed to connectivity barriers and inefficiencies in the transport sector. Standard Gauge Railway’s construction aimed to address these gaps and facilitate cargo and passenger transport operations in Kenya and across borders. This study used a descriptive research design in the form of a survey and adopted a mixed research method of qualitative and quantitative data with primary data collected through questionnaires and interviews. The population of interest was the train users (passengers and cargo transporters). The findings suggested that the railway has generally enhanced transport operations for passengers and freight through reduced travelling time, improved transport safety and security, and improved mobility and accessibility. While the SGR has led to reduced travel costs for passengers, the cost of freight transport remains relatively high.

The SGR has provided an alternative for freight and passenger transport, but there are challenges such as logistical and administrative challenges in cargo clearance, ticketing issues, and passengers' “First mile and Last mile” challenges. While the improvement of physical transport infrastructure and connectivity is significant, these challenges should be transformed into enablers to realize the railway’s full potential. This research, therefore, recommends for; effective transfer of the cargo clearance and forwarding paperwork from Mombasa to Nairobi; development of a transport link between the railway and the two major cities to solve the “first mile” and “last mile” transport challenges for passengers, and to audit the ticketing system to identify and sanction cartels involved in ticketing malpractices. The overall conclusion is that generally, the railway has added value in Kenya’s transport sector; passengers now have a cheaper, reliable and safer mode of transport while cargo is transported in a more reliable and safer way. The SGR is thus a transformative infrastructural project for Kenya; it symbolizes a country on a pressing need to transform herself into a middle-income economy supported by modern infrastructure.

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Research in World Economy
ISSN 1923-3981(Print)ISSN 1923-399X(Online)


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