Nairobi commuters hoping to use the newly launched standard gauge railway (SGR) train services, which open this morning, will have to board two trains and, in some cases, pay more compared to the road option.
The train services targeting residents of Ngong and Ongata Rongai have no direct link to the city centre, meaning one will all have to stop at Syokimau on either trip to complete the journey.
Residents of Rongai will pay Sh100 to Syokimau before taking another train at Sh50 to the city centre, according to the schedules released by Kenya Railways. It costs on average Sh100 to take a matatu ride from Rongai, although it may take longer due to heavy traffic on the Magadi Road.
Depending on where one lives in Rongai, there may be additional costs to access the station, located about four Kilometres from the town in Kajiado County.
Their Ngong neighbours who pay as low as Sh50 to come to work by road will also pay Sh100 to get to Syokimau first before completing the trip via the metre gauge railway to the Central Railway Station in Nairobi.
The Ngong station is located about five kilometres from the town, implying those planning to use the line would either drive to the station or seek alternative transport at an additional cost.
Those using the SGR to commute around the outskirts of Nairobi will also have to be in time for the link train from Syokimau to the city centre, which also makes two stops at Makadara and Imara Daima.
Neither the passenger train to Suswa nor the commuter services will be available, according to the schedules.
Access to the stations was one of the main concerns raised by local leaders as President Uhuru Kenyatta’s entourage made stops along the line from Syokimau to Suswa yesterday.
Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku asked for a speedy upgrade of the link roads, especially around the Ngong station, which are almost impassable during heavy rains.
“Your excellency, we are requesting that these surrounding roads be upgraded to allow the locals to access the stations with ease. The link to Ngong road from Ngong station and the link road to the Ongata Rongai Stations need quick intervention,” Mr Lenku said.
President Kenyatta promised to have the roads fixed, asking Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia to liaise with the local leaders and address the matter.