New train service kicks off to a stuttering start
The Syokimau train service started on a low note as commuters failed to show up at the newly opened stations in Makadara and Imara Daima.
The train, which made its first stop at Imara Daima, only managed to pick less than 10 passengers.
At the Makadara station, it stopped but no passenger was there to board it, despite an entire wagon having been reserved for the two stations.
Kevin Juma, a software developer with a leading bank, lamented that they were overloaded into other wagons to accommodate the Imara and Makadara passengers.
“The trains schedule changed today and it left early. We were forced to accommodate extra passengers as some wagons were set aside for these new stations. We also realised that the fare had been increased to Sh70 from the usual fare of Sh50,” he lamented.
Another passenger, Patrick Mwaura, who lives in Kitengela and is a regular user of the commuter train, lamented that the new stations should have their own train as the Syokimau one is already congested.
“This is not the way to go for this commuter service. We park our cars and ride in the train for the comfort and convenience but with the introduction of these new routes, it is affecting our timing and comfort. This means we will ditch it for our cars again,” he says.
In the previous train schedule, the commuters would pay Sh30 for a one-way off-peak ticket, and Sh50 one-way or Sh200 return that included day-long parking charges.
The service was available between 7.05am and 9.00am to ferry passengers to the city centre; and between 5.50 pm and 7.30pm from the city centre.
The Imara Daima station that was launched by retired President Daniel Moi last week was expected to serve more than 2,000 residents of the adjacent areas of Imara daima, Villa Franca and Industrial Area.
The charges have, however, been deemed to be too high with Sh100 charge during peak hours and Sh80 off-peak.
The Makadara station, which was launched the same week by former premier Raila Odinga, is expected to serve close to 5,000 commuters living in Umoja, Buruburu, Uhuru, Jerusalem Jericho, Bahati, Doonholm and adjacent areas.