SGR, a few rumblings

The real impact of SGR will be measured by small businessmen and women taking goods to and fro the Coast, budget hotels and resorts along the route and not the rumblings of twitteratti who go on holiday to the coast once a year

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Image courtesy http://mwarv.click.co.ke/2017/05/03/sgr-nairobi-mombasa-test-ride/

There have been quite some interesting views recently around the SGR and Madaraka express, and decided to throw in my thoughts and hopefully hear your thoughts too.

Magufuli has recently announced plans to launch an electric SGR train, while the Kenyan SGR is running on diesel. Truth is, Kenya’s current power mix cannot accommodate an electric train. Neither can Tanzania in its current state. Let’s be honest, TZ has for a long time been electricity deficient and has had to import just over 10MW from Uganda and Zambia, today just over 18% of TZ is electrified. There’s also questions and comparisons to Ethiopia’s train. Look, Ethiopia’s hydropower potential is estimated up to 45,000 MW, only second after Congo in Africa, though the country is still far from optimum production with abput 90% if the country without access to electricuty. We cannot hoola hoop in that circle though, Ethiopia has enough resources to export its electricity once it achieves optimum production.

So back home, The real impact of SGR will be measured by small businessmen and women buying and selling things to and from Nairobi, and families that go home on that route every week or so, not the rumblings of twitteratti who go on holiday to the coast once a year.

60% of global rail today is standard gauge, and only 17% is the metered gauge type that was installed here by the indians a century ago, also known as the lunatic express.

Whether we like it or not, Infrastructure development is not something any country needs to play small in. Forget Lee Kwan Yu and the Singapore story, the very Western countries piling pressure on Africa today, built their key transport infrastructure when their economies were even smaller than ours, on bigger debt. Let us read and learn.

As journalists and purveyors of the truth, let us give the balance and ethos this story deserves. As Kenyans, let us hold fire to the feet of the government of the day to be transparent in all its dealings, because we can always teach them the lesson on election day.

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