Kenya’s Standard gauge railway resumed passenger service on Monday morning, one week after President Uhuru Kenyatta relaxed measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
The train left Nairobi at 8 am with top government officials and managers from the Kenya Railways on hand to supervise the launch while ensuring safety guidelines issued by the ministries of Health and Transport are strictly adhered to.
Speaking at the Nairobi terminus during the resumption of services, Philip Mainga, the managing director at Kenya Railways, said the reopening follows the directive by the minister of Transport to have SGR passenger services resume after the cessation of movement into and out of Nairobi was lifted.
“We submitted our operation protocols to both the ministries of Health and Transport and received the necessary clearance. As you can see, we are observing high levels of sanitization and all passengers have to wash their hands and have their temperature checked before entering the station,” Mainga said.
“In addition, we have clear markings to help people observe social distancing and our staff have been provided with special protective clothing because they will be with the passengers all the way to Mombasa,” he added.
Mainga said that in observance of the social distancing guidelines, the train only carried 600 passengers at half capacity, with 10 coaches deployed, including eight economy coaches and two first-class coaches. An additional coach was set aside to be used to isolate passengers suspected to be infected with novel coronavirus.
Judith Kirimi, a passenger who had booked the first journey since the pandemic struck, said she was happy to be able to travel again but asked the railway’s management to streamline the screening process to make it faster.
“It is understandable that being the first day of travel since coronavirus was announced, there would be some hiccups but they should ensure that washing hands and going through the corona checks does not consume a lot of time,” Kirimi said.