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Railway represents bright future of China-Kenya cooperation

By Liu Hongjie in Nairobi | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-11-04 15:15
Charge d'affairs Li Xuhang (second from right) and General Manager Li Jiuping (first from right) present gifts to passenger Rose Mbogo's family, Nov 3, 2018. [Liu Hongjie / chinadaily.com.cn]

Kenya's Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway welcomed a special woman on Saturday and even held a ceremony for her because she is the 2,000,000th passenger since its launch on May 31 last year.

Rose Mbogo, a teacher at the Kenya Medical Training College Msambweni Campus, told the welcoming crowd that the Madaraka Express is very convenient, comfortable, clean and beautiful. "It has changed my life in terms of transportation."

Mbogo and her husband, Ishmael Wango Makumi, work in different cities so they take the commuter train frequently. Before it was put into operation, they had to take the old Meter Gauge Railway, which took an entire night from Kenya's most important port city, Mombasa, to the capital, Nairobi.

Now, the much more modern express train only takes four hours for the entire journey, with an average speed of 120 kilometers per hour.

"Madaraka Express has brought Nairobi and Mombasa closer than it used to be. We used to sleep all the way. You start your journey in the evening and you arrive in the morning. You get tired and you sweat all the way but that has been a story of the past. In the Madaraka Express, there is air conditioning in the coach. You don't get sweaty, you don't get tired, you arrive very fast", Mbogo said.

Passenger Rose Mbogo is escorted to the train after the ceremony, Nov 3, 2018. [Liu Hongjie / chinadaily.com.cn]

She expressed her gratitude to Kenya's government for supporting the modern railway and to the Chinese companies that built and operate the railway.

Speaking at the ceremony, Minister Counselor Li Xuhang, who is now the charge d'affairs of the Chinese embassy in Kenya, labeled the new railway as the most important cooperation project implemented by China and Kenya. He said it also is a showcase of win-win cooperation and friendship between the two countries.

Li said that according to a recent report on CNN, taking the Standard Gauge Railway train has been ranked fifth of "the 20 best things to do in Kenya". So, it is now a name card for Kenya's beautiful scenery, for Kenyan people's hospitality and passion, and also for the Chinese companies who increase their investment and fulfill their social responsibilities in Kenya.

According to the diplomat, after 17 months' operation, the passenger and cargo volumes of the new railway have surpassed 2 million people and 200,000 20-foot equivalent units respectively, which greatly improves the logistic situation in the region and eases congestion at the east African port city, Mombasa.

Philip Mainga, acting managing director for Kenya Railways Corporation, speaks during the ceremony, Nov 3, 2018. [Liu Hongjie / chinadaily.com.cn]

It is for the same reason that Philip Mainga, acting managing director for Kenya Railways Corporation, considered the landmark passenger, which was achieved 10 months ahead of schedule, as a milestone of the country's railway history.

"We are here a few months' ago to celebrate the 1 million passengers…We started from only one pair of trains a day and now we are doing two pairs. The capacity that we are handling now every day is around 6,000 commuters. I think this is a great milestone that the Kenya Railways and the government has made, and the future is much brighter," Mainga said.

Li Jiuping, general manager of the Africa Star Railway Operation Company Ltd, expressed his team's willingness to provide better services.

"The company will take further initiatives to strictly the fulfill operation and maintenance agreement, enhance cooperation with all parties, shoulder the international obligations and responsibilities of Chinese enterprises and make more contributions to Kenya's social and economic development," he said.

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