Private Sector meets with Kenya Railways to discuss progress of SGR

KEPSA and Kenya Railways on 2nd August, 2017 held a consultative meeting to discuss the progress of SGR since its launch as a key partner and stakeholder in the development of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).  In her opening remarks, KEPSA CEO, Ms. Carole Kariuki, said that, the SGR is mooted in Kenya’s Vision 2030 and thus one of the key thematic areas of KEPSA’s National Business Agenda policy dialogue is infrastructural development with a focus of fast tracking the construction of Standard Gauge Railways (SGR) from Mombasa to Malaba.

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She went on to say, “KEPSA has been engaging with Kenya Railways since the start of the Standard Gauge Railways to ensure quality, local content issues and business sectors concerns are addressed at each stage.  The SGR is also a key tourist attraction and thus the services standards should be attractive to tourists who visit our country.” Ms. Kariuki also noted that every development has challenges but what was important was to continue improving every day and solving problems as they come, not waiting until they overwhelm us.  She assured the participants that KEPSA as a partner would continue to work together with other stakeholders to ensure the journey of SGR does not stop.

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KEPSA Transport and Infrastructure Sector Board Chair, Mr. Auni Bhaiji, said, “The SGR is a tremendous boost to the Kenyan economy and since its official launch it had given Kenya great publicity both locally and globally.” He observed that the SGR project is the only turnkey projects in Kenya that had been delivered on time creating a zeal and passion among the key stakeholders of the realization of the milestone.  He then gave an overview of the private sector experience during the SGR peace ride in June 2017 as follows:

Mr. Bhaiji listed some of the strengths of the SGR services included time keeping of the train schedules; visible security staff on board; dissemination of history of the development along the routes of the various sub-stations which helped enlighten the passengers on the heritage and was a good boost to tourism. He commended the hygiene of the coaches and removal of differentiated pricing for foreigners.

Some of the areas of improvement  included need for adequate signage both  at the Nairobi and Mombasa terminus;  increased water supply in the rest rooms; there is need for a designated area for luggage ,the restaurant capacity is overstretched; long ticketing procedure;  among others.

The private sector proposed some solutions that would make the SGR services  more efficient which included: improved timelines for ticket booking, segregation of the economy and business access points; Wi-Fi services; limited alcohol service; video on safety and use of various facilities inside the train; CCTV cameras as opposed to the many security officers;  complete the terminus  connection roads  especially at the Miritini terminus to Kilifi; online booking; Scanner for handbags; secure parking; and enhanced service offered in the business class.

The Managing Director of Kenya Railways, Mr. Atnas Maina, appreciated the candid engagement of KEPSA in the SGR process and continuous feedback on improvement of SGR Services. He appreciated the private sector taking the opportunity to convey the peace message using the SGR Promo Ride during this electioneering period under Mkenya Daima initiative.

“To meet the rising demand, Kenya Railway has deployed staff to work at the various stations and train services. I will also add that there has been some improvement in some areas highlighted above and we are still trying to resolve most of the customer experience challenges before adding more trains trips to the current schedule”, stated Mr. Maina

On online ticketing, Kenya Railways assured the participants that by first week of August 2017, the SGR ticket will have customer details such as national identification number and seat number. Meanwhile, additional booking offices have been opened in both Mombasa and Nairobi.

To integrate SGR with other mode of transport Kenya Railways is in discussion with National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) on last mile Passenger data so that they can be able to engage other service provider like buses. The certainty of booking cap has been addressed and corporate/group booking will be possible even a month before the actual date of travel.

In her closing remarks, Ms. Agatha Juma, KEPSA Head of Public Private Dialogue thanked the Kenya Railways team for finding time to engage KEPSA members and promising to address most of their concerns. She went on to invite the business community to take the opportunity and engage Kenya Railways in the next phases of SGR construction from Nairobi to Malaba.

KEPSA will continue to engage with Kenya Railways to ensure high efficiency of SGR operations at all times.